Research from the Massachussetts General Hospital has demonstrated that the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas can continue to function for a number of decades in some people with type 1 diabetes.
The study looked at 182 participants with type 1 diabetes and found that 10 percent of patients who have been living with type 1 for 31 to 40 years still had functioning beta cells. The research looked for levels of C-peptide, in the participants, as an indicator that the beta cells are continuing to work and produce insulin.
It hasn’t previously been well established how long people with type 1 diabetes can continue producing insulin. By using a very sensitive test, the Massachusetts team, lead by Director of Immunobiology Dr Faustma, was able to record lower levels of C-peptide than has been previously possible.
The research showed that beta cell function decreased in proportion to the duration of the disease but it could offer hope for the future, for people already diagnosed with diabetes, if research can identify an effective way to prevent the body from targeting its beta cells.

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