British scientists have found a particular kind of immune cell they believe leads to the development of type 1 diabetes.
Researchers at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, believe they are closing in on a cure for type 1 diabetes, with their research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Professor Lucy Walker and her team spent six years researching the cause of type 1 diabetes, before identifying the follicular helper T cell.
This cell triggers an immune response that results in insulin-producing cells being destroyed, with the body then unable to produce insulin, the hormone which regulates glucose levels.
Important discovery
This is the first time that a specific T cell has been identified as the cause of type 1 diabetes, with Walker and her team now attempting to establish why T cells cause the destruction of insulin-producing cells.
Walker did, however, stress the significance of this finding as an “important discovery”, leaving her team “one step closer to developing an effective cure for Type 1 diabetes.”
“However, everybody has these T cells and we still do not know why they expand in some people to cause diabetes while in other people they do not,” Walker added.
Dr Miranda Rosenthal worked in collaboration with Walker’s team, concluding: “Type 1 diabetes is a growing problem and research that helps us understand how it develops will ultimately lead to better treatments for patients.”

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