A ‘paradigm shift’ in the diagnosis of diabetes

Scientists on Friday unveiled a revised classification for diabetes, one they said could lead to better treatments and help doctors more accurately predict life-threatening complications from the disease.
There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised, they reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a leading medical journal.
The findings are consistent with the growing trend towards “precision medicine,” which takes into account differences between individuals in managing disease.
In the same way that a patient requiring a transfusion must receive the right blood type, diabetes sub-types need different treatments, the study suggested. Similarly, scientists have also identified distinct kinds of microbiome — the bacterial ecosystem in our digestive tract — that can react differently to the same medication, rendering it more or less effective.
“This is the first step towards personalised treatment of diabetes,” said senior author Leif Groop, an endocrinologist at Lund University in Sweden, adding that the new classification is a “paradigm shift” in how the disease is viewed.
People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food.
Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types.
With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10 per cent of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood.
This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke. Acute cases may also require limb amputations.
It has long been known that type-2 diabetes is highly variable, but classification has remained unchanged for decades. — AFP

Share Button