Preventing Type 1 Diabetes

As type 1 diabetes is predominantly an auto-immune process, there are many theories as to why it occurs. As of yet, there are not many ideas as to how type 1 diabetes can be prevented. There are a few tests that are still undergoing testing, however they are very expensive and provide little insight into whether the individual will develop the condition or not. These experimental tests rely on looking for autoantibodies within your child’s blood that are thought to be indicative of diabetes development.

Currently the main two treatments for type 1 diabetes are insulin replacement and pancreatic transplantation. Research is ongoing into methods of prevention and better methods of treatment. In medicine, prevention is considered as having three different types:

  • Primary prevention
  • Secondary prevention
  • Tertiary prevention

Primary prevention aims to stop the disease occurring, in the case of diabetes this is stopping your β cells from being damaged in the first place. Secondary prevention attempts to stop any further damage to the β cells, once you have developed diabetes. Finally, trying to stop any other problems occurring alongside your diabetes, such as neuropathy and nephropathy is called tertiary prevention.

Currently there are a number of preventative treatments that are undergoing clinical trials. The first drug treatment involves the use of monoclonal antibodies to help prevent your immune system from destroying your pancreatic β cells. Monoclonal antibodies are already used in the treatment of cancer and it is hoped that they will be able to cure diabetes.

The second area of research is insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF). Normally this molecule is responsible for protecting the pancreatic β cells, helping to prevent type 1 diabetes. It is hoped that by producing a synthetic IGF1, diabetes can be cured or even prevented.

Both of these methods are still under investigation and will require a lot more research until they are available for use.

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