Around 140,000 Australians live with type 1 diabetes. Six new cases are diagnosed every day. Unable to produce the insulin needed to turn sugars from food into energy, sufferers rely on insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels.
The condition is hard to control and can lead to devastating consequences, including cardiovascular disease, kidney and eye problems, and even premature death.
We know that type 1 diabetes develops when misguided cells from the body’s own immune system destroy the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. New research from the USA suggests that these misguided cells might also attack a new type of immune cell, in a completely unexpected immune response.
But we need to understand these processes better if we are to develop new therapies for this terrible autoimmune disease.