Diabetes mellitus and advances in diabetes research

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Authors : Cummings E, Singh J, Adeghate E, Manoharan S


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major global health problem and it affects more than 200 million people worldwide. It is the most common serious metabolic disorder in humans. Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia as a result of a relative or absolute lack of insulin or the actions of insulin on its target tissues or both. The disease is classified into two major groups, Type 1 or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) and Type 2 or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). Type 1 diabetes represents approximately 5–10 % of all cases of diabetes and it is characterised by an auto-immune mediated destruction of the beta cells of pancreas, leading to a severe reduced capacity of these cells to produce insulin with resultant insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes represents more than 90 % of all cases and it is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. It is mainly due to a genetic disposition, environmental and human behavioural factors, including sedentary lifestyle, overtly rich nutrition, affluence and obesity. Both forms of diabetes are associated with long-term complications that affect most of the major organs of the body, such as the eyes, brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and nervous system. Complications can be suppressed or prevented by good metabolic control. During the past few years, tremendous advances have been made in early diagnosis and in controlling and preventing the disease, understanding the complications and developing new forms of treatment. Research has focused on several areas of DM including the insulin pump, ion channelopathies, pancreatic islet transplant, control of obesity, salivary and pancreatic insufficiencies, contractile dysfunction of the heart and understanding the causes of retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy. This review focuses on the disease itself and new research into a number of areas of its long-term complications.

Key words: Diabetes mellitus, pancreas, insulin, momordica charantia, hypoglycaemia, cardiomyopathy, glucose


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