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New Findings on the Immune System in Type 1

Recently, there have been new findings in the cause of type 1 diabetes. We know that type 1 is an autoimmune disease. Usually, an immune reaction is a good thing that keeps the body healthy and eliminates harmful bacteria.

But there are also brakes, or checkpoints, set up in the body to halt the immune system and prevent it from working too hard and turning into an autoimmune disease.

How type 1 diabetes works

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas creates little to no insulin for the body to convert sugar into energy. When this happens, sugar builds up in the blood stream and can damage blood vessels throughout the body. Keeping blood sugar within a healthy range is crucial for type 1 diabetes, and people with type 1 diabetes will have to take insulin through injections or a pump.

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New study

A new study in mice at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found that in type 1, the immune system doesn’t respond to these checkpoints, and thus continues to attack cells, including insulin-making cells. The study was published in Frontiers in Immunology.

This discovery opens up possibilities for new treatments for type 1.

With around 1.25 million people in the U.S. with type 1, research like this brings promise to the future of type 1 diabetes.

Other possible causes of type 1 that researchers have suggested are genetics, factors in the environment, or viral infections.

The role of these checkpoint molecules could be especially helpful in problems with transplants, when the body tends to want to reject a new organ or new cells.