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Researchers study potential link between diabetes and gut bacteria

Irish researchers are exploring the potential links between gut bacteria and the onset of diabetes.

A team from University Hospital Cork is trying to find microbes in the gut that could be causing the disease.

Dr. Colin Hawkes, pediatric endocrinologist at CUH, spoke about the research ahead of World Diabetes Day on Monday.

He said more funding was needed to find a cure for type 1, in which patients’ immune systems attack the pancreas, destroying the cells that make insulin.

Dr Colin Hawkes, pediatric endocrinologist at University Hospital Cork (Brian Lougheed/PA)

“Microbes make the gut leaky and proteins can cross the gut wall and trigger the immune system response,” he said.

“We hope to be able to slow the rate of progression, prevent it and develop new treatments.

“We’re going to keep trying to find a cure, I’d be hopeful but we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket.”

Dr Hawkes also spoke about Ireland’s first national audit of children with the disease.

About 3,000 children live there with type 1 diabetes, and another 300 to 400 are diagnosed each year.

The audit is undertaken to ensure that children receive the same level of care, regardless of where they live.

“What we hope to do is get to a place in Ireland where we know how many children have type 1, what their outcomes are and ensure that every child receives the best care,” said Dr. Hawkes.

“Disparities exist across the country and it won’t be an easy fix, but we’re certainly moving in a positive direction to try to identify and resolve them.”

Cork University Hospital is setting up a research program which it hopes will be a world leader in the disease.

CUH is also partnering with experts at University College Cork to improve the way it treats children with the disease, including work that will improve how teenagers take over from their parents in managing it.

A new investment from South/South West Hospital Group has provided three additional diabetes nurses for CUH with extra efforts to ensure children living with type 1 have faster access to technology like blood glucose meters and pumps. insulin.

These eliminate the need for traditional finger checks, piercing the skin up to 10 times a day to check blood sugar levels.

CUH said a list of more than 120 children awaiting such technology to manage their condition should be cleared by the end of December.

In terms of the future management of diabetes, Dr Hawkes predicted that either technology will advance so much that the disease will be more of an inconvenience than a devastating diagnosis – or a cure will be found.

“The problem with a cure is that we don’t fully understand what causes type 1 and we haven’t been able to figure it out for 100 years,” he said.

The doctor said funding was needed to set up the childhood diabetes research program at CUH and encouraged people to donate, if they can, by visiting cuhcharity.ie