A new research suggests that germs can play a vital role in the development of type 1 diabetes. These germs destroy the cells that produce insulin, weakening body’s immune system. Earlier studies have proven the role of killer T-cells, a type of white blood cell that protects us from germs, thus playing a major role in type 1 diabetes by destroying insulin producing cells, known as beta cells.
Team of scientists at Cardiff University found the same killer T-cells that cause type 1 diabetes are strongly activated by some bacteria, hoping that they would find some new ways to prevent or even halt type 1 diabetes.
“Killer T-cells are extremely effective at killing off germs, but when they mistakenly attack our own tissues, the effects can be devastating,” said Cardiff University's Professor Andy Sewell, lead author of the study.
“During type 1 diabetes, killer T-cells are thought to attack pancreatic beta cells. These cells make the insulin that is essential for control of blood sugar levels. When beta cells are destroyed, patients have to inject insulin every day to remain healthy," said Sewell.
Scientists still have little understanding of what causes type 1 diabetes. The research was published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study provides first ever glimpse of how germs might trigger killer T-cells to cause type 1 diabetes.