Diabetes and Viruses

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New drugs to treat viral infections are constantly being developed. The hope is to start a project based on patients with newly diagnosed diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes: Caused By A Virus?

If those plans are realized, as early as next year patients could be participating in a clinical trial to test a combination of a new drug and a well-known drug. That will lessen the seriousness of the disease.


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An increase in the number of cases of type 1 diabetes was discovered in Norway after a viral epidemic. The number of new cases of type 1 diabetes is highest in the autumn and winter, when we have most virus infections.

Some years ago, researchers found a virus in the pancreas of a child who died of diabetes. Since then, signs of the virus have been identified in the blood of diabetes patients with greater frequency than in healthy individuals. We have detected specific proteins from the capsid by immunostaining tissue samples using special antibodies aimed at these proteins. Most importantly, we have also found the genetic material RNA, which is exclusively specific for this type of virus.

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We had no evidence to show that the virus is actually in the insulin-producing cells. To be able to say with certainty that diabetes is caused by a virus, the virus must be identified in the morbid cells, which is what we have done.

Lars Krogvold, et al. Detection of a low-grade enteroviral infection in the islets of Langerhans of living patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Virus a possible cause of type 1 diabetes

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  • The team used bioinformatics, the study of large research databases containing viral genomic sequences, to search for genetic structures similar to human hormones and regulatory proteins. While the viruses discovered do not normally infect humans, the simple act of consuming fish could expose humans to these viruses.

    University of Oslo

    Scientists will have to perform more testing to see if the viruses could infect cells or be absorbed through the gut. The next step for the researchers will be to go back to the databases, to see if they can discover other viruses which can produce human-like hormones. Infection with a common virus may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes in older adults, a new study from the Netherlands suggests.

    Researchers Suspect Link Between Viruses And Type 1 Diabetes

    In the study, adults ages 85 and over who were infected with cytomegalovirus were about twice as likely to have Type 2 diabetes compared with those not infected. Cytomegalovirus is a type of herpes virus found in 50 to 80 percent of adults over age 40; most people experience no symptoms of the infection. The findings suggest that cytomegalovirus infection plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes in the elderly, the researchers said. However, the study found an association, not a cause-effect link. While the findings are interesting, researchers need studies that follow people forward in time to find out whether the virus could cause Type 2 diabetes, said Dr.

    In addition, because the study was conducted in elderly people, the findings may not apply to other populations, Schulman said.