Statistics say that ¾ the way through 2011 at least 11% of individuals that live in the U.S. were diagnosed with diabetes. Many Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year, whether its type 1 or type 2. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in people under the age of 20. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults over 20. T-cells are supposed to help your body right? In some cases that just isn’t the case. Studies are showing that in some people it’s their own immune system causing them to be sick. T-cells are the part of your immune system that holds the information on how to kill a certain bacteria. “Type 1 diabetes is a result of the body’s own immune system attacking and destroying the cells in the pancreas that manufacture the hormone insulin. Insulin controls blood sugar levels and a lack of insulin is fatal if untreated,” said Professor Sewell. When doctors looked at how t-cells and insulin cells interacted they were shocked to see that the t-cells were destroying the insulin cells. Studies have shown that some insulin cells do not have the markers that the t-cells are looking for. Although scientists are not sure why some have a case of mistaken identity they are sure that it is the insulin cells that are the target of the autoimmune attack.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2 and it still does not have a foolproof cure. A team of scientists led by George Eisenbarth have done different studies to try and find a way to cure or at least stop these diseases. Sometimes using mice and injecting insulin they would try to see if the mice that were injected with it would diagnose diabetes while the other mice did not. Although mice proved to be a good model they couldn’t really know anything for sure until they tried it on human issue. The team has taken lymph nodes from a number of patient’s organs whether they were in surgery or they were already deceased. Upon studying these lymph nodes they discovered that diabetic patients had large numbers of insulin recognizing t-cells near their spleen and pancreas, while non-diabetic patients did not. They are currently using results like this and others to try and create new medication to help prevent diabetes. The medication that scientists are trying to create will bind to insulin-recognizing receptors on the t-cells, which might help prevent diabetes. A new drug has been created called hOKT3g1 or ala-ala that has been said to help stop diabetes. This drug has been tested on patients from the age of 7 to 27. After an amount of time some of these patients have shown little or no reduction of insulin. This new drug is said to be almost risk-free. More drug tests are being tested out on people for periods longer than a year and researchers are being optimistic.
I personally am hoping that there will one day be a cure to help prevent diabetes and also help those who already have it cope. A person would hope that the body’s own immune system would never attack itself, but sometimes we need it to help find new cures for other things. This led me to think about other questions that could be answered like: Is the life expectancy of diabetes any different than that of a non-diabetic person? What other drugs are being created to help combat diabetes? Do you think diabetes can actually be cured?