Scientists question the existing classification of diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common and almost incurable diseases to date. And as you know, physicians distinguish 2 types of this condition. However, according to recent studies conducted by scientists from the Swedish University of Lund and the Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine, the number of varieties of diabetes can increase to 5, which will mean the emergence of new therapies, and that some of the current methods of treatment are not effective enough.

First, let’s look at the generally accepted classification: Type 1 diabetes is associated with insulin deficiency in pancreatic cells as a result of their destruction (for a variety of reasons). The cause of type 2 diabetes is the loss of tissue sensitivity to insulin. That is, in 1 case of insulin is not produced enough, and in the second – the cells of the human body cease to “perceive” insulin at normal (or even elevated) concentration in the blood.

According to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, there are 5 types of the disease. A group of scientists from Sweden and Finland conducted a cluster analysis of data collected from 8980 people who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Experts evaluated data such as the age of the patients, the body mass index, the activity of the islets of Langerhans (cells producing insulin), insulin sensitivity, and two clinical markers used in the diagnosis of diabetes: the concentration of glycated hemoglobin and the presence of antibodies to glutamate decarboxylase.

As a result, scientists came to the conclusion that among all patients it is possible to distinguish not 2 but 5 types of the disease: 3 types – these are severe forms and 2 – moderate. 1 group is 11-17% of patients, and they have a high risk of developing renal failure as a complication. 2 severe group (9-20%) are young patients with non-autoimmune insulin insufficiency. The third (6-15%) – persons with insulin deficiency of autoimmune nature. “Light” forms of diabetes are associated with age-related changes in the pancreas (about 40% of the subjects) and obesity (18-23%). Moreover, the scientists repeated the experiment in a group of 5,795 people and obtained similar results.

Thus, experts concluded that adequate diagnosis requires a more thorough diagnosis of the type of diabetes, because only a part of the patients participating in the study (namely, 1,2 and 3 groups) needed insulin replacement therapy. In addition, the autoimmune type of insulin resistance requires a completely different approach to treatment. The authors of the survey do not exclude the possibility that during the next stages of the study the data may change, and that the data obtained are preliminary, and subsequent experiments can refute them.

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