Researchers from the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, say diabetes is five diseases that can be treated separately.
Diabetes, which is split into type 1 and 2, is a metabolic disease where the person has high blood sugar either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin.
The research team studied 14,775 patients including a detailed analysis of their blood results and published the results in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.
In the results, the research team split the disease into five clusters:
Cluster 1 – severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 – it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin
Cluster 2 – severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 – they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault
Cluster 3 – severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it
Cluster 4 – mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3
Cluster 5 – mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder
According to the researchers, the study is an indication of the future of diabetes treatment but the changes cannot be effected immediately.