Five types of diabetes identified

2 March 2018        

Category: Research

Scientists have identified five different types of diabetes, according to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. 

Researchers from Sweden and Finland identified five distinct sets of patients with diabetes, which came with significantly different characteristics and risk of different complications.

The researchers suggest that it is now time to move away from the idea that there are only two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Until now, there were thought to be two main types of diabetes: type 1 in which your body doesn't produce insulin due to a problem with the immune system; and type 2 in which your body is unable to use the insulin that is produced effectively, usually because excess fat in organs leads to resistance to the normal effects of insulin.

The team said its findings could lead to more personalised treatment and also identify those with an increased risk of complications at the stage
of diagnosis.

What are the five identified types?

The study, by Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, looked at 14,775 patients including a detailed analysis of their blood.

The results showed that patients could be separated into five distinct clusters.

Cluster 1 - severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 - it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin

Cluster 2 - severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 - they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault

Cluster 3 - severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it

Cluster 4 - mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3

Cluster 5 - mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder


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