Scientists have come up with a new classification of diabetes

The study could not confirm if the five types have different causes nor if patients’ type changes over time

Leif Groop, one of the researchers, was quoted by BBC as saying.

For decades the disease has been considered to be two different forms - type one, an autoimmune disease in which people stop producing insulin, and type two, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin. Diabetes - a group of metabolic imbalances which can be characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time - is usually split into Types 1 and 2.

The researchers felt refining the classification to recognise other types of diabetes could help to personalise treatment and identify those who may be at higher risk of specific complications.

This study analysed several cohorts and registries of people with diabetes from Sweden and Finland to look at the characteristics of people newly diagnosed with the disease.

Given the complex genetic and environmental factors that can affect the onset of diabetes and are still not well understood, some scientists predict that these "clusters" could grow, eventually allowing diagnoses' and treatment plans to become ever more accurate and effective. To demonstrate their argument, they analyzed health data from almost 15,000 Swedish people with type 2 diabetes, focusing on six variables that had been measured and recorded at the time of their diagnosis: age, body mass index, the presence of beta-cell antibodies, level of metabolic control and measures of beta-cell function and insulin resistance.

Published online March 1 in The Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology, one study-led by Emma Ahlqvist, PhD, with the Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmo, Sweden-suggests patients be divided into five subgroups by disease progression and complications.

They say further studies are needed in non-Scandinavian populations to test their findings further.

Breaking out these subgroups and recognising them as distinct types of diabetes could hopefully lead to better tailored treatment, the researchers say. For example, the researchers found that people who had cluster 3 or 4 diabetes had a higher risk of kidney disease or vision problems (retinopathy) than people in the other clusters.




"Meanwhile, there are many drugs available for controlling blood sugar levels".

The researchers also report that numerous people in the studies were not receiving appropriate treatment, suggesting that a more individual approach to the disease could be beneficial.

Cluster 5: Mild age-related diabetes is the biggest group, mostly elderly patients.

Cluster 5: Mild diabetes among mostly older patients, accounting for 34 to 47% of cases.

The categories were discovered by considering six different metrics, including a measure of blood glucose control, age at diagnosis, BMI, the presence of certain antibodies linked to autoimmune diabetes, and a measure of insulin sensitivity. While no cure exists, and any changes to current treatment are likely a good way off, exploring the root causes and various manifestations of diabetes is a positive step forward for the development of new medicines that could in future reduce or prevent some of the most serious complications from arising. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition where the hormone insulin is not produced, and which generally develops in childhood.

The researchers plan to launch similar studies in China and India.

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

Findings from a study of 13,270 subjects at Lund University in Sweden have helped explain why not all diabetes patients respond in the same way to treatment.

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