Patients with a rare, genetic form of diabetes often are misdiagnosed as having type 2 diabetes because the two share symptoms.
But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that treating such patients with therapies designed for type 2 diabetes is potentially harmful and that treatment guidelines need to change. The underlying problems in patients with the genetic form of the disease — called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY1) — are very different from those in type 2 diabetes. And treating MODY1 patients with drugs for type 2 diabetes appears to lead to destruction of insulin-secreting beta cells that regulate blood sugar, the scientists found.
The findings are published March 18 in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
“People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are treated with oral medications that make insulin-secreting beta cells very active,” said first author Benjamin D. Moore, a former postdoctoral fellow at Washington University who is now at Massachusetts General Hospital. “But the MODY1 pathway we’ve uncovered shows that stimulating those cells with those drugs can lead to beta cell death. That means these patients can become dependent on insulin injections much sooner.”
Working with Jason C. Mills, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University, Moore originally was studying cells in the stomach when he identified the insulin-secretion pathway disrupted in the genetic form of diabetes.
The featured article was originally published at Washington University’s theSOURCE: Rare form of diabetes may require alternate treatment