The Last Molecule Attacked in Diabetes Type 1 is Finally Identified

Diabetes is a common medical condition that affects a great number of people around the world. There are two types of diabetes, 1 and 2, none of which can be treated with a method that cures it once and for all. Diabetes patients are required to use insulin injections or some other drugs to keep it in a “dormant” state. However, a recent breakthrough offers hope to people suffering from the first type.

After two decades of various researches and tests, scientists announced that they have finally discovered the remaining molecule in the list of these that are attacked by the human immune system causing type 1 diabetes. Medical researchers had already figured out that it is one of the conditions that are labeled “autoimmune” meaning the cases where the patient’s immune system considers a part of his or her body as a threat and begins an attack. So, in the case of type 1 diabetes, the goal was to determine which molecules are the ones being attacked. Once the list was narrowed down to five, one by one, they were spotted. The fifth and final molecule proved to be particularly hard to unveil, but the task was finally achieved.

The five molecules that are being attacked triggering the aforementioned disease are:

1) Glutamate decarboxylase

2) IA-2

3) Insulin

4) Zinc transporter-8

5) Tetraspanin-7

The fifth is the one that kept eluding the researchers for two whole decades.

Now that they have all been identified, it is easier for scientists to focus their efforts on protecting them. There is so much potential deriving from such a discovery. Even though we are going through a very early stage, medical scientists could develop screening tests and methods to treat it or even ways to prevent type 1 diabetes from occurring in the first place.

Unfortunately, this may not be as easy as it sounds because the human immune system is known to be extremely effective and resistant to any attempt to suppress it. According to experts, protecting certain types of molecules from our own immune system is a really complicated procedure since creating such a specific “exception” to the list of threats that are being attacked by it is something that needs to be done with 100% precision. A single wrong interference could allow a different disease or other type of condition to spread uncontrollably since the immune system will ignore it.

Still, this is excellent news that brings patients one step closer to effectively treating the condition once and for all.

Published at 01/26/2021