Weighing in on Diabetes

There's no cure and the cause is unknown. Up to three-million Americans have type-one diabetes. It's already known people with it have smaller pancreases, but a new discovery could carry a lot of weight when it comes to beating diabetes.
"I was like so tired and sick." Jordan Perkins was only eight when she found out. She has type 1 diabetes. 

"It was a surprise that I had diabetes." 

"I have to do shots and prick my finger." 

Jordan's Pancreas stopped making insulin when her immune system started attacking these insulin-producing beta cells. Now, we could be closer to finding out why that happens.

"It is a first of its kind." In this lab, Doctor Martha Campbell-Thompson's team weighed pancreases from 164 deceased donors. The pathologist found pancreases at high risk for developing type-one diabetes, weighed 25-percent less than normal ones.

Dr. Martha Thompson, Professor of Pathology said, "This implies that even before one becomes diabetic, you may have fewer insulin producing beta cells. Could be happening many years before signs of diabetes occur."

She wants to work with ongoing diabetes studies to determine if people with varying degrees of diabetes risk also have smaller pancreases.

"Measure their pancreas volume using something like as simple and safe as ultrasound." 

Finding patterns in pancreas weight could help predict risk, treat the disease, and maybe even prevent kids like Jordan from ever having to deal with diabetes. Thompson believes it will be relatively easy to add an ultrasound or MRI test to current diabetes studies to measure pancreas size. 

In the meantime, a pilot study at the University of Florida to further examine the findings is in the works. Thompson hopes it will eventually expand to sites across the country.  

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