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Study Shows Association between Common Virus and Type 1 Diabetes

February 24, 2011

As previous news blog entries have covered, researchers are working to determine how genetics and environmental factors contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes. A number of recent studies, (including this one and  this one, published in the journal Diabetes) have indicated that enteroviruses – common viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, fever, or diarrhea – may be linked to the development of type 1 diabetes. A new study published in the journal BMJ provides further evidence that these viruses play a role.

The new study was a meta-analysis, meaning the researchers did not conduct any new human trials, but reviewed and compared existing data from nearly 5,000 people with type 1 diabetes to draw their conclusions. Based on the data, the researchers concluded that there is a clinically significant association between enterovirus infection and type 1 diabetes.

It’s important to note that the study only shows an association between enteroviruses and type 1 diabetes. It does not establish a cause and effect relationship, nor the process by which the autoimmune attack that causes type 1 is triggered.

The idea that viruses may be associated with the development of type 1 diabetes is certainly not new. So why, then, is a study like this one important?

According to the researchers involved, understanding the role viruses play in people who develop type 1 diabetes produces knowledge that could possibly be applied to strategies to prevent the disease. Understanding the causes of type 1 diabetes could, for example, lead to a vaccine to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

JDRF shares the point of view that the knowledge we gain about the underlying causes and development of type 1 diabetes from research will be vital for developing preventive approaches. JDRF’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Richard Insel, provided a comprehensive overview of prevention research in a recent webcast.

To view the article online visit the JDRF Juvenation website.

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To learn more about the JDRF Dallas chapter, visit our JDRF Dallas website!

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