Diabetes has five types, say scientists


  • Scientists unveiled a revised classification for diabetes, one they said could lead to better treatments and help doctors more accurately predict life-threatening complications from the disease.
  • There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised, they reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a leading medical journal.

The study suggested:

  • The findings are consistent with the growing trend toward “precision medicine”, which takes into account differences between individuals in managing disease. In the same way that a patient requiring a transfusion must receive the right blood type, diabetes sub-types need different treatments, the study suggested.

Distinct kinds of microbiome:

  • Similarly, scientists have also identified distinct kinds of microbiome — the bacterial ecosystem in our digestive tract — that can react differently to the same medication, rendering it more or less effective.


  • People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food.
  • Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Two sub-types:

  • Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types.
  • With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood.
  • This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.
  • It has long been known that type-2 diabetes is highly variable, but classification has remained unchanged for decades.
  • Among the severe types, a group of patients with insulin resistance — in which cells are unable to use insulin effectively — was at far higher risk of kidney disease.
  • This group has the most to gain from the new diagnostics as they are the ones who are currently most incorrectly treated.
  • Another group facing serious complications was composed of relatively young, insulin-deficient patients.
  • The third “severe” group were people with auto-immune diabetes corresponding to the original “type-1” diagnosis.
  • The two other groups have milder types of the disease including one, which includes about 40% of the patients, beset with a form of diabetes related to advanced age.


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