New research hopes to find protection against diabetic complications

Kidney disease, vision loss and cardiovascular complications are common among those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. These conditions affect anywhere from 85 to 90 percent of diabetics. But what about the other 10 to 15 percent?

A team of researchers from Lund University recently set out to answer this question. They want to know why some people with diabetes never develop any major complications. They believe that unraveling this mystery could lead to the development of new treatments for other diabetics who are more susceptible to potentially fatal complications.

The researchers say they will soon launch a major new study that follows thousands of diabetics in Sweden for a period of 30 years. Through genetic testing and lifestyle surveys, the team hopes that they will discover factors that contribute to the development of complications among those with diabetes.

The study was set to last for 30 years because the researchers said that if a person with diabetes does not develop any complications after this length of time, they are unlikely to at any point for the remainder of their lives. The researchers refer to these patients as diabetes "veterans."

"If we can identify factors protecting these veterans from devastating complications, then it might be possible to develop drugs that can do the same thing," said Valeriya Lyssenko, who will lead the study. "Clearly they are different and we want to find out what it is that protects them."

Most of the complications that affect individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are caused by damage or defects in the blood vessels. This is one area that the researchers plan on investigating. If some individuals have a natural protection against this damage, it may be possible to design treatments that shield others from it as well.