Type 1 Diabetes Prevention: A Goal Dependent on Accepting a Diagnosis of an Asymptomatic Disease.
Ziegler A-G., Bonifacio E., Powers AC., Todd JA., Harrison LC., Atkinson MA.
Type 1 diabetes, a disease defined by absolute insulin deficiency, is considered a chronic autoimmune disorder resulting from the destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. The incidence of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes has been increasing at a rate of 3%-5% per year globally. Despite the introduction of an impressive array of therapies aimed at improving disease management, no means for a practical "cure" exist. This said, hope remains high that any of a number of emerging technologies (e.g., continuous glucose monitoring, insulin pumps, smart algorithms), alongside advances in stem cell biology, cell encapsulation methodologies, and immunotherapy, will eventually impact the lives of those with recently diagnosed or established type 1 diabetes. However, efforts aimed at reversing insulin dependence do not address the obvious benefits of disease prevention. Hence, key "stretch goals" for type 1 diabetes research include identifying improved and increasingly practical means for diagnosing the disease at earlier stages in its natural history (i.e., early, presymptomatic diagnosis), undertaking such efforts in the population at large to optimally identify those with presymptomatic type 1 diabetes, and introducing safe and effective therapeutic options for prevention.