by Tamara BhandariJuly 10, 2017
Doctors can’t predict who will develop Type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which one’s own immune system destroys the cells needed to control blood-sugar levels, requiring daily insulin injections and continual monitoring.
Now, a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that viruses in the intestines may affect a person’s chance of developing the disease. Children whose gut viral communities, or viromes, are less diverse are more likely to generate self-destructive antibodies that can lead to Type 1 diabetes. Further, children who carried a specific virus belonging to the Circoviridae family were less likely to head down the path toward diabetes than those who carried members of a different group of viruses.
“We identified one virus that was significantly associated with reduced risk, and another group of viruses that was associated with increased risk of developing antibodies against the children’s own cells,” said Herbert “Skip” Virgin IV, MD, PhD, the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and head of Pathology and Immunology, and the study’s senior author. “It looks like the balance of these two groups of viruses may control the risk of developing the antibodies that can lead to Type 1 diabetes.”
The findings, published online the week of July 10 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest a way to predict, and maybe even prevent, the life-altering diagnosis.
What an AMAZING discovery!! Diabetes comes in two flavors.
Type 1 is described above, the pancreas fails to keep up with metabolic demands for insulin, it’s been known to be an auto-immune condition but other than that, we didn’t know what triggered the onset of that autoimmunity.
Type 2 is essentially “pancreas burnout”; overweight folks have a pancreas that works itself to death. Trying to keep up with the demand for more insulin to handle the calories being consumed and then stored as fat, the pancreas finally gives up, it can’t keep running flat out to keep up with the metabolic demands of the body as to many excess calories are consumed.
This discovery pertains to Type 1, also known as Juvenile onset as it often starts in childhood. While Type 2 or adult-onset is typically from the above causes, it’s also possible for adults to get Type 1 after childhood. This discovery could hold the key to preventing this disease, usually the more severe form of diabetes as well.