Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin for the rest of the body. It was previously thought that once someone was diagnosed, they only had a few years before their body stopped producing insulin completely, or in other words, until all of the insulin-producing beta cells were destroyed.
Fascinating new research has revealed that three quarters of individuals living with type 1 diabetes still produce a small amount of insulin.
The research led by the University of Exeter Medical School is supported by the National Institute for Health Research. Through the Exeter Clinical Research Facility researchers were able to conduct a study to see whether they could detect insulin production in the body. Seventy-three precent of the volunteers in this study were still producing low levels of insulin no matter how long they had been living with diabetes.
The even bigger key to the study was whether or not the insulin responded to food the same way it would in someone without diabetes. They were. This indicates that the remaining beta cells are working and doing their part in the pancreas.
Even if the low levels of insulin production can't contribute to the treatment of diabetes right now, it is a breath of fresh air to know that, as someone with type 1 diabetes, my body hasn't completely given up.
This research gives hope to all of those living with type 1 diabetes that some day there may be a way to use a person's beta cells that are still producing insulin to regenerate new cells and to increase insulin production naturally. Because of this study and the research being done around it, they will be able to look much deeper into the details of diabetes in an effort to find a cure.