It has been attested by all medical researchers that type I diabetes is caused due to breakdown in the immune system of the body. The flawed response from the immune system was understood to be the reason behind the damage caused to islet cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced.
A recent research conducted by Canadian scientists suggests that apart from immune system, the central nervous system also plays a key role in the development of Type 1 diabetes.
Statistics show that200, 000 Canadians are estimated to suffer from diabetes. This disease may result in grave complications, including loss of vision, cardiovascular complications, amputation of limbs and kidney failure.
In the studied done, laboratory mice were used that were already susceptible to Type 1 diabetes. The researchers discovered that there is a perceptible link between islet cells of pancreas, and the associated nerves that sense pain and other stimuli assonated with trauma. The researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Calgary have postulated that without this control system normal function of islet cells cannot thrive.
Dr. Michael Dosch,the lead researcher is an immunologist at Sick Kids Hospital. He explained that their findings reveal a closer link between sensory nerves and immune system than they had known existed earlier.
They were really surprised to watch the effect of merely "knocking" off a few pain related sensory nerve cells. Called "substance P", these cells are capable of amplifying pain or trigger an inflammatory process. None of the mice, in which the substance p was knocked off developed diabetes. Neither did their pancreas show any sign of inflammation.
The researchers have inferred that a malfunctioning immune system is not the only culprit responsible for triggering of Type 1 Diabetes. The nerve cells responding to pain also play a key role.
However the scientists were quite puzzled to note that injecting substance P into mice that had inflamed pancreas also reversed the process of inflammation.
The team of researchers now plans to continue their studies using human subjects with a strong family history of Type 1 diabetes in order to look for abnormalities in levels of sensitivity to pain, which could be a harbinger of tendency to develop the disease.
Diabetics often complain of peripheral neuropathy, a disorder characterized by numbness of extremities described by patients as "pins and needles" or burning. This disorder could be the result of the nervous system's role in the development of the disease, postulated the researchers.
Since the tests are not toxic, clinical trials may soon be initiated once the effect of Substance P is studied on human beings said the researchers.
This research holds promise in timely detection of onset of diabetes, Type 1,which may help in nipping the illness in the bud.