Research Suggests Diabetes Could be Classified Five Separate Disease Groups
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels or diabetes affects about one in nine in the US population- they are labeled either type I or type 2 diabetics. Of those who have diabetes about 23% of them don’t know they have it. Over third of the US population are pre-diabetics.
The health problems resulting from diabetes are not immediate and changes could occur over time and often times it is only diagnosed because of the resulting complications. We of course know that diabetes increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and limb amputation.
Today we classify diabetes as type I and type II.
Type I diabetes: This is an immune disease were the antibodies attach the cells (beta cells in pancreas) that produce the bodies insulin, so there is not enough insulin to control the sugar levels.
Type II diabetes: This largely disease that is largely a result of a poor life style where there is a buildup of disproportionately larger amount of body fat that affect the way insulin works, called insulin resistance.
Five Clusters of Diabetes
A study however published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology of a study done by Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland on 14,775 patients showed the diabetic could be separated in five clusters.
- Cluster 1– those who have severe autoimmune diabetes. These are the same as the type I diabetics who when they were young and healthy had their beta cells attacked by their own wayward antibodies thus unable to produce insulin.
- Cluster 2 – Were severely insulin deficient similar to those in cluster 1 but it was not their immune system that was at fault or causing the problem.
- Cluster 3 – These were generally overweight and had severe insulin-resistance. They were making adequate insulin but no longer responding to it.
- Cluster 4 – Mild diabetes seen in very overweight people but they metabolically closer to normal than cluster 3.
- Cluster 5 – Mild age related-diabetes, develop symptoms when they are much older than other groups and have a milder in form.
With New Classification More Precision in Treatment
Classifying them into these clusters would give physicians for more precision in tailoring their treatment approach. “The five clusters found had different characteristics, with different complications, and called for different treatment needs,” according to the researchers. For example the cluster 2 patients have a higher risk of blindness and cluster 3 patients had higher risk of kidney failure.
According to Dr. Victoria Salem a clinical scientist and consultant at the Imperial College of London the use of type I and type II diabetes classification is not terribly an accurate system. Using the five clusters of the to classify diabetes is the future on how we think of the disease. Don’t be surprise if changes in the treatment of diabetes may not change until more studies are done to develop better therapeutic protocols based on the 5 cluster classification.
For details on the research study click: Novel subgroups of adult-onset diabetes and their association with outcomes: a data-driven cluster analysis of six variables, The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology