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Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) is an autoimmune disease which currently afflicts over 2,000,000 North Americans. About 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. T1DM is caused by a genetic predisposition for the body to attack the pancreas and destroy the pancreatic islet cells responsible for producing insulin. This loss of islet cells results in insulin deficiency and leads quickly to related medical complications including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage. Traditionally, it was thought that most T1DM patients developed the disease in childhood and the condition was therefore referred to as juvenile diabetes. However, the median age at which T1DM is diagnosed in North America is about 18 years. Thus, roughly half of all patients with T1DM developed the condition in adulthood.

 

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Roughly 20 million people in the US, or 90% of all diagnosed diabetes patients, have T2DM. T2DM was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. It usually begins as insulin resistance, a disorder in which the cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas becomes stressed and gradually loses its ability to produce insulin. Similar to T1DM patients, injected insulin therapy eventually may be required as it is for all people with T1DM. T2DM is being diagnosed in children and adolescents at an increasingly alarming rate, and represents an exploding public health threat worldwide. Currently 200M people are affected by diabetes globally.