Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coming soon: diabetes 1.5?

In the Oct. 27 edition of New Scientist (qtd. in today's WSJ, B7, Informed Reader): "Are There Really Two Types of Diabetes?"

Patients with diabetes are increasingly experiencing unprecedented mixes of symptoms, according to several scientists. Type 1 diabetes is child-onset, where the immune system destroys pancreatic cells that make insulin. Type 2 is known as adult-onset--the body "slowly becomes resistant to insulin"; the disease is linked to obesity and only infrequently needs insulin shots. A good diet helps.

Symptom combinations are coming from both sides. Some children with type 1 develop type 2 later on. This is fairly common. BUT!--some adults with "classic" cases of type 2 are also experiencing the immune attack characteristic of type 1. Dr. Terence Wilkin, a UK scientist, has a theory (hypothesis?) that the "real" diabetes is "type 1.5" - a hybrid. However, other UK researchers point to genetic evidence of two distinct types, not two faces of the same disease.

How will this turn out? No one knows. For now, doctors might try a customized approach for each patient; everyone should manage their conditions in the best way they can.

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