The current classification of diabetes defines the disease in just two categories. A new study classifies diabetes in five distinct categories that could also lead to more personalized treatments.
Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is currently classified into Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is the disease of individuals whose blood glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. If someone has Type 1 diabetes, their pancreas does not create insulin. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin.
On the other hand, the immune systems of individuals with Type 2 diabetes do not attack beta cells. Instead, the problem lies with the body's inability to respond to insulin. It is often associated with excess body weight and high blood pressure at diagnosis.
Insulin is the hormone that helps glucose to get into the cells to be used as energy. Without it, the glucose remains in the bloodstream. Generally speaking, the main difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is the cause of the high glucose levels wherein one is autoimmune in origin and the other in excess body weight.
Five Categories Of Diabetes
A new research by a team from Lund University Diabetes Center and the Institute for Molecular Medicine created a different categorization for diabetes in their study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. In it, they created five categories of diabetes instead of two.
Cluster 1 describes diabetes similar to Type 1 diabetes wherein it is an autoimmune disease that affects young seemingly healthy people who cannot produce insulin. Cluster 2 runs similar to Cluster 1 except that while it affects similar patients, their immune systems are not to blame for the insulin deficiency. Instead, the deficiency could be a result of a defect in their beta cells.
Clusters 3 and 4 describe diabetes in generally overweight individuals with insulin resistance, but those in Cluster 4 are metabolically closer to normal compared to those in Cluster 3. Lastly, Cluster 5 describes mild diabetes in patients who were older or in mid-age when they developed symptoms.
According to researchers, the more specific categorization could lead to a more targeted and personalized treatment for diabetes. As it stands, the current categorization is not quite accurate because it classifies patients in just two categories whereas the ones in the new study are more specific.
However, other experts also believe that there is still a need for further studies especially since the test was conducted only among 14,775 patients from the Swedish All New Diabetics in Scania when the diabetes risk in different parts of the world vary greatly. Still, they state that this research is a huge step in categorizing diabetes in a more detailed manner.