The Immune Cell Linked To Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes is characterized by the pancreas producing little to no insulin, a hormone that is essential to let glucose be broken down to be absorbed by cells and produce energy. For this reason, type I diabetes is heavily dependent on insulin. For a long time, it was believed that either T cells or B cells were linked to type I diabetes but could not be both. Recently, it was revealed that a new hybrid immune cell might be responsible for causing type I diabetes.
1. What Do We Know About This New Hybrid?
It is common knowledge that type I diabetes is caused when the body’s immune cells attack Beta (B) cells that produce insulin. Scientists and researchers were still unsure since studying the anatomy of a human can be complex details were a little vague up until a study held by some researchers from the Johns Hopkins University. This newly identified cell/hybrid has been dubbed the X cell as its exact function is not that well-known as of yet. However, it has been established that it acts as both a B and T cell.
2. How Does It Work?
Typically, B and T cells work by identifying and attack any foreign entities, including antigens such as viruses and bacteria that might cause an immune response. In the past, it was believed that B and T cells identify insulin as a harmful antigen as well and attacks it; however, research has proven that this is not a strong enough conviction. On the contrary, it was found that another mystery cell, i.e., the X cell binds very tightly to the insulin, causing a very aggressive immune response by the T cells.
Further research revealed that the X cell was indeed a hybrid of B and T cells hence justify why such a strong immune response is stimulated. This case is further supported by the evidence that there are more X cells present in patients diagnosed with type I diabetes as compared to non-diabetic people. Hence, hinting at some sort of link between the two.
3. What The Future Holds
Some more research is underway to understand the underlying molecular workings of the X cell; that may help in developing some preventive measures for type I diabetes as well. Also, it may also help identify potential symptoms and risk factors for individuals.
The research and the clinical trials it is going to entails is certainly a step in the right direction however it does have some apprehension attached to it as it requires some out of the box thinking and research techniques. However, the purveyors of this research team are confident and enthusiastic about the progress that has been made so far and intends to follow it up with some more substantial evidence-based research.
Researchers have admitted that there’s still a long way to go in establishing this hypothesis, however, if and when it is proved, it will prove monumental towards finding a potential cure for type I diabetes.