Diabesity - novel molecular targets for obesity and type 2 diabetes
 
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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to automatically regulate blood glucose levels, resulting in too much glucose in the blood.  Diabetes is generally diagnosed in two forms: Type I and Type II.

Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes typically appears in children and is caused when the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed by the body's immune system.  This form of diabetes accounts for up to 10% of all diagnosed cases and is treated with regular insulin injections, hence it alternative name: insulin dependent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes.  It use to be known as adult-onset diabetes but it is now found in all age groups, including children.   Type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 90% of all diabetes cases.  This condition usually begins with insulin resistance, a disorder in which the body's insulin doesn't function effectively.  Eventually, the pancreas cannot cope with the strain of producing more insulin and as blood blood glocose levels rise, diabetes develop.

Why is diabetes a problem?

Diabetes is the fourth main cause of death in most developed countries and, for example, the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in adults in developed countries.  People with diabetes are:

  • 2 - 4 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes
  • 15 to 40 times more likely to require a lower-limb amputation compared to the general population
  • at the same risk of heart attack as people without diabetes who have already had a heart attack

Diabetes and its complications currently account for up to 10% of European healthcare costs.  Indirectly diabetes also has a heavy cost on society by increasing disability, sickness, premature retirement or premature death.

What treatments are available?

Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is treated by regular insulin injections (usually several times a day) and by a combination of healthy eating and measurement of blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes
Initially, eating healthily and an increase in physical activity may reduce blood glucose levels.  Failing this, anti-diabetic tablets may be prescribed.  As the condition progresses though many Type 2 diabetics will also require insulin injections.

What does the future hold?

As with obesity, prevention is better than cure.  But for people with diabetes, advancements are being made that will help manage the condition.  For example, in the near future blood glucose levels and insulin injections may be automatically delivered through a single device controlled by a microchip.  A promising possibility is pancreatic cell transplantation, where insulin-making cells from someone without diabetes are transplanted into someone with diabetes.  These cells implant in the the liver and, despite not being in the patient's pancreas, they still produce insulin.

 

Diabesity: Novel molecular targets for obesity and type 2 diabetes
   
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