A study by the Joslin Diabetes Center shows that some people with Type 1 diabetes suffer from monogenic diabetes. This form of diabetes is a non-autoimmune hereditary condition, which in some cases does not require insulin treatment. According to the author, therefore, young people suffering from Type 1 diabetes should perform genetic tests to identify the possible variant.
The discovery is part of a broader research, focusing on people who have been living with diabetes for at least 50 years. The study includes other important findings on pancreatic cell activity, but this is one of the most interesting. It could in fact mean freedom from insulin for many young diabetics. Monogenetic diabetes is caused by mutations in one of the genes related to insulin production. It could affect about 5% of cases, many of them of juvenile diabetes.
To prove it, the researchers tested 29 genes related to monogenetic diabetes, plus other genes that cause Type 1 diabetes. Out of about 1019 volunteers, about 8% showed a mutation from a monogenetic diabetes that could have caused the disease. About half of them lacked the Type 1 diabetes-related mutation.
This means that the people in question could respond better to oral drug therapy than to simple insulin. New clinical trials should start within a couple of months to test the effectiveness of oral drugs. If the results were positive, they could change the lives of millions of people with diabetes.