BBC Radio Wales - New Research From Exeter University On Type 1 Diabetes

This morning I was invited onto BBC Radio Wales to speak about a really exciting new piece of research that has been conducted by Exeter University on type 1 diabetes. Having had the condition for 14 years myself, I know what you’re thinking… New research comes out all the time, especially that which claims it’s going to be the next cure for type 1. But this research is not only genuine, but has incredible implications for how we will look at the disease in the future.

I was on air, from the BBC studio with presenters Ollie and Rachel and Professor Noel Morgan was speaking to us about his research from Exeter University. He mentioned that the findings from the research were twofold in that they suggested that that in youth, there are actually two forms of type 1 diabetes that have been found to exist. The first finding was that type 1 in childhood (particularly those under the age of 6) was found to be a particularly aggressive form of the condition, known as insulitis. A more inflammatory process resulting in more of the beta cells that stimulate insulin production being destroyed. Which makes sense when you consider that the majority of people with type 1 are diagnosed in their teens, not early childhood years, or as used to be the case when I was diagnosed. Therefore it follows that there must be a specific catalyst behind an early diagnosis. 

JDRF UK Research

The second finding was that those people, like myself, that were diagnosed in their teenage years with the condition actually still go on to produce some insulin. With this insulin production extending far outside of the honeymoon period that often occurs after diagnosis, whereby a small amount of insulin is still produced but eventually stops after a couple of years. Or so we initially thought, as now the research suggests that even after decades of living with type 1 diabetes, people who were diagnosed in their teenage years still have beta cells that remain intact in large numbers long after diagnosis. Whereas it was previously thought that 90% of beta cells them were lost after diagnosis.

This is incredibly exciting news for people with type 1 diabetes, not only because the research focusses solely on type 1, thanks to JDRF UK (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) who funded the project. But it provides a lot of hope and further scope for future treatments, that perhaps even within type 1 the condition may be treated differently. Or the breakthrough could help us understand the reasoning behind why the condition behaves so differently between individuals. As I mentioned in the radio interview, throughout the time that I've had the condition, myself and so many others keep asking why, why us, why now and this new research could be the key to unlocking the mystery of type 1 diabetes.

If you'd like to listen again to the interview on this groundbreaking type 1 research, it can be found 51 minutes and 50 seconds in!

Insulin-secreting cells (blue) in a patient with type 1 diabetes coming under attack from immune cells (red and green). Image courtesy of Pia Leete.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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