By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Type 1 diabetes is a progressive autoimmune disorder that requires regular monitoring, insulin injections, and an awareness of potential complications. It generally begins in childhood, adolescence or early youth and can significantly shorten lifespan.
Type 1 diabetes has a significant negative impact on an individual's quality of life as well as on the utilization of healthcare. People with the condition are at an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disease.
Research into type 1 diabetes has focused on several areas some of which include:
Understanding exactly what happens when the body's immune system turns on the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas and attacks them. Understanding this may help to develop mechanisms for treating or even curing type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Creating, regenerating or repairing the damaged or destroyed beta cells of the pancreas. So far, research has involved replacing the islet cells using a specialized encapsulation technique, genetic engineering and stem cell procedures. Creating genetically engineered viral vectors that can trigger and produce insulin is an important aspect of diabetes research. Read more here.
Developing improved techniques for monitoring and regulating blood sugar levels. One focus is the creation of non-invasive and pain-free methods of administering insulin that does not involve injections. New approaches to tone down the autoimmune reactions that cause type 1 diabetes include the BCG vaccine and other immunization techniques. Read more here.
Prevention of damage to the parts of the body affected by diabetes such as the blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and heart.
Improving understanding of the impact of diabetes on behavior and mental health to help enhance quality of life.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013