The cause of Type 1 or juvenile diabetes has been poorly understood, but long believed to be an autoimmune disorder. New evidence strongly links the disease to enterovirus infection that is extremely common.
Past Studies Link Virus and Autoimmunity to Diabetes
Past research has linked enterovirus to type 1 diabetes, but strong evidence has been lacking. The increased rates of diabetes among children prompted a new study from Australian researchers who reviewed 24 studies and two abstracts involving 4,448 participants.
In a phase I clinical trial, BCG vaccine was found to reverse diabetes by boosting TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in the bloodstream. TNF has been found to suppress autoimmunity and diabetes in mice, leading to the study for development of the vaccine for diabetes and supporting the current findings.
A UK study, published March, 2009 also found enterovirus was present in the pancreas of 60 percent of children who died from type 1 diabetes. Forty percent of adults with type 2 diabetes studied also had the viral DNA on examination of pancreatic tissue in the former study.
The findings showed children with enterovirus were 10 times more likely to have type 1 diabetes compared to non-diabetics. The enterovirus consists of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. Though the virus is common, many infected individuals have no symptoms, according to information from the CDC.
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