Researchers Identify 5 Different Types of Diabetes

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Until now, diabetes was classified into two main types, type 1 and type 2. Type 1, generally diagnosed in childhood, required insulin treatments, due to the pancreas not making enough insulin of its own. Type 2 was believed to be more lifestyle-related and was caused by the body producing enough insulin but having trouble delivering it to individual cells. There were other types as well, such as LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) and MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young), but there were still variations not described by these categories. Not to mention the fact that over 90 percent of diabetes patients were categorized as type 2, despite the many differences between individual cases.

So a team of scientists at Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland set to work studying 14,775 blood samples from people with diabetes, looking for differences in their conditions. The results are a whole new way to categorize diabetes cases into five “clusters.”

Each of these clusters is genetically distinct from the others, and each has different characteristics and a different risk level for certain complications. Read about each individual type below:

cluster 1: Severe Autoimmune Diabetes (SAID)

This type of diabetes is basically what everyone thinks of as classical type 1. It becomes apparent before adulthood in people who may otherwise seem healthy. An immune disease attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, leaving the body unable to produce insulin. Among those people studied, only about six and a half percent had this type of diabetes.

cluster 2: Severe Insulin-Deficient Diabetes (SIDD)

Similarly to cluster 1, people in cluster 2 are usually young and healthy. They, too, struggle to make insulin, but it is not the immune system that causes this incapacity. Rather, a defect in their beta cells seems to be the issue. About 17.5 percent of people suffer from this type of diabetes.

cluster 3: Severe Insulin-Resistant Diabetes (SIRD)

This cluster of people is generally overweight, contributing to insulin-resistance. Their bodies make insulin but, over time, use it less and less efficiently. Over 15 percent of people are believed to have this type of diabetes.


Click “next” to see the characteristics of the other two clusters of diabetes on the next page.

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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