Type 1 diabetes 'could be caused by germs'
Some germs may be responsible for people getting type 1 diabetes, according to a groundbreaking scientific study.
Researchers from Cardiff University’s Institute of Infection & Immunity discovered that certain germs trigger killer T-cells, a form of white blood cell that can cause diabetes.
The killer T-cells destroy insulin-producing ‘beta cells’, leading to an insulin deficiency.
Dr David Cole, a senior research fellow in charge of the study, told The Independent: “These findings could be really helpful for us going forward, now that we are getting a better idea of the environmental risk factors that cause diabetes.
“The behaviour of the T-cells is really like a case of friendly fire, or mistaken identity as they are provoked into attacking the beta cells.
“It could potentially open the door for people to be screened for certain bacteria, lowering the risk of them developing type 1 diabetes through non-genetic causes.”
During their experiments the Cardiff team shone powerful X-rays into infected blood samples, revealing the bacteria which may cause the condition.
Researchers had previously isolated a killer T-cell from a patient with type 1 diabetes to view the interaction, which kills the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
The Cardiff studies reveal that killer T-cells are highly cross-reactive, and respond to a variety of different pathogen triggers.
Dr Cole continued: “Uncovering the mechanism by which white blood cells detect bacteria is key to us working towards a cure, and these results have been promising.”
The research was published in Continue reading