Type 1 Diabetes: A Primer
City of Hope’s Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute is committed to developing a cure for type 1 diabetes within six years, fueled by a $50 million funding program led by the Wanek family. Here, we take a closer look at the disease.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
“Type 1 diabetes is very complicated,” said Defu Zeng, a professor in the Department of Diabetes Immunology at City of Hope who has been working on a cure for type 1 diabetes for the past 10 years. “It is caused by multiple genetic as well as environmental factors.”
It is a relatively rare disorder, affecting only about 1 million people in the United States. People with type 1 diabetes make up just 5 percent of the total diabetic population (which includes those with type 2 diabetes), according to the American Diabetes Association. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, because of the destruction of the beta cells, the body does not produce sufficient insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that breaks down sugars and starches into a simple sugar called glucose, which cells use to perform essential functions. Insulin allows glucose to get from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. This process is essential for life.
While type 1 diabetes appears to have a strong genetic component, environmental factors such as viruses may trigger the disease.
Diabetes throughout History
Although type 1 Continue reading