(Natural News) For over a million Americans, type 1 diabetes is a fact of life. Type 1 diabetes, which is also sometimes called "insulin-dependent diabetes," can strike anyone, at any age — seemingly, without warning. In the United States, 40,000 new cases of type 1 diabetes are diagnosed every year. But new research shows that the occurrence of type 1 diabetes may not be as random as it seems. Scientists from Columbia University say that certain viruses that linger in the gut could predispose children to develop type 1 diabetes.
This shocking new research adds to a growing body of evidence that viral exposure can influence diabetes risk — and specifically, that intestinal microbial populations are incredibly influential in the onset of disease.
Linking intestinal viruses to Type 1 diabetes
A scientist from the Center for Infection and Immunity of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health teamed up with the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia to take a closer look at the relationship between intestinal enteroviruses and type 1 diabetes (T1D) risk.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the findings show that elevated levels of intestinal enteroviruses are linked to islet autoimmunity — a precursor to T1D. To conduct their research, the team looked at samples of blood and stool collected from 93 children who took part in the Australian Viruses In the Genetically at Risk study. This was a "prospective birth cohort of children with at least one first-degree relative with Type 1 diabetes."
As a press release from Science Daily notes, the team used a special viral sequencing tool developed at the Center for Infection and Immunity, known as the Virome-Capture-Sequencing for Vertebrate-infecting viruses (VirCapSeq-VERT). VirCapSeq-VERT is said to be up to 10,000 times more powerful for virus identification than conventional "next-generation" sequencing methods.
The fecal samples revealed that 129 viruses were more common in the guts of children with islet autoimmunity than the guts of age- and gender-matched controls. These viruses included enterovirus A species, which are a common source of infection in babies. What this means is that kids with islet autoimmunity have more "bad" bacteria in their intestines.