Fear of a new type of diabetes affecting adolescents and young people

A mysterious form of diabetes, which affects millions of people worldwide every year, is spreading rapidly around the world. Although it was discovered 70 years ago, there is still no effective treatment. The disease would be closely related to malnutritionis in fact particularly widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, e it mainly affects adolescents and young adults. According to what explained by Meredith Hawkins, director of the Global Diabetes Institute, young victims cannot be cured and on average have a life expectancy that rarely exceeds one year from diagnosis. According to the researchers, not even insulin injections can do anything for those affected, and indeed, in some cases they can trigger lethal reactions.

A team of scientists from the Einstein’s Global Diabetes Institutewhich for over a decade has been trying to understand its causes in order to find a suitable therapy, has meanwhile defined malnutrition diabetes as a unique, metabolically distinct disease from T1D and T2Dand should be considered a distinct type of diabetes in the first thorough examination of patients with this little-known condition.

Current scientific literature – highlights Dr. Meredith Hawkins, director and founder of Einstein’s Global Diabetes Institute – offers no guidance on managing malnutrition-related diabetes, which is rare in high-income nations, but it exists in more than 60 low- and middle-income countries. Doctors in those countries read Western medical journals, so they are unaware of malnutrition-related diabetes and do not suspect it in their patients. We hope that our results will raise awareness of this disease, which is so devastating to so many people and will pave the way for effective treatment strategies. “

The researchers – who conducted the studies at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India – they assessed the health status of 20 males between the ages of 19 and 45, selected as subjects at risk of developing malnutrition-related diabetes, using state-of-the-art methods to measure insulin secretion and action. Same metabolic tests were performed on groups of people with T1D, T2D and healthy controls for comparison purposes. Males make up about 85% of those who contract diabetes due to malnutrition, so study subjects were exclusively males to reduce sex-specific variability. “We have used highly sophisticated techniques to rigorously and accurately study these individuals – said Dr. Hawkins – and our conclusions differ from previous clinical observations.”

Previous studies had led researchers to speculate that malnutrition-related diabetes resulted from insulin resistance, but the latest findings highlight the need to find other causes. “The subjects with diabetes related to malnutrition – Hawkins explains – have a very deep defect in the secretion of insulin, which was not previously recognized. This new discovery totally revolutionizes how we think about this condition and how it should be treated ”. Meanwhile, medical research has made great strides and allowed the pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for T2D which could increase insulin secretion from the pancreas, aiding the possibility of finding safe methods to treat the new condition.

Diabetes has become a truly global pandemic – comments the scientist -. One in 10 adults worldwide has the disease, and three-quarters of them, around 400 million people, live in low- and middle-income countries. In the countries where it has been studied, the prevalence of malnutrition-related diabetes among people with diabetes is about 20%, which means that around 80 million people could be affected worldwide. For comparison, an estimated 38 million people are currently living with HIV / AIDS. So we clearly need to learn a lot more about malnutrition-related diabetes and how to best treat it. “

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Fear of a new type of diabetes affecting adolescents and young people


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