There is good news for all people who live with Type 1 diabetes. Boston Children’s Hospital could be on the verge of finding a cure which will help a huge number of people who regularly have to inject themselves with insulin in order to keep a normal level of glucose in their blood. There are over 215,000 people under the age of 20 in the U.S. that suffer from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes every year. Discovering that one of your family members, especially your child, has diabetes can be upsetting and stressful for the whole family. It can also be difficult to manage. But Boston Children’s Hospital is giving hope to all these people who have to fight each day with the disease by finding the root cause of the Type 1 diabetes. This could mean that a cure is close to being discovered.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, more specifically a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (called beta cells). About one in every 600 children in the United States develops type 1 diabetes. While type 1 diabetes accounts for only about 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the country, it’s one of the most common chronic diseases in children. Most of the time it occurs during puberty when girls are 10 to 12 years old and when boys are 12 to 14 years old. But it’s increasing in young children under 5 years old and tends to run in families. Brothers and sisters of children with type 1 diabetes have about a 10 percent chance of also developing the disease by age 50. With proper attention to maintaining the balance among your child’s food, exercise and insulin (if needed), your child should not only be okay—he or she should be able to maintain good general health. Untreated diabetes, however, can be dangerous and lead to damage to nerves, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and circulation.
A few weeks ago the hospital published on its blog some information on this new research, which could change the lives of thousands of adults and children that live with the disease. Dr. Paolo Fiorina of the Nephrology Division at Boston Children’s Hospital says in the report that, “Insulin injections can manage hyperglycemia by reducing the patient’s glucose levels, but it is not the cure.” He emphasizes that in order to truly cure diabetes, they need to pinpoint exactly why this happens and then prevent it. “By identifying the ATP/P2X7R pathway as the early mechanism in the body that fires up an alloimmune response, we found the root cause of diabetes,” Fiorina said referencing the findings of the research.
Now that the cause is identified, the next step will be to focus on finding more treatment options.