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SCIENTISTS have discovered five distinct types of diabetes, offering new hope for better treatments, it was announced yesterday. Traditionally, the killer disease has been split into two types by medics. Type 1 is an auto-immune disease which cannot currently be cured.

Type 2 on the other hand can be avoided by making lifestyle changes such as taking more exercise and eating a healthy diet.

However, in the new study, researchers found that separating adult-onset diabetes into five distinct different types – rather than just type 1 or type 2 – could help to better tailor early treatment for patients.

It would also represent a first step towards precision medicine in the disease, they said.

In the new analysis, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, five types of the disease were found.

Each had different characteristics and were associated with different complications, illustrating the varied treatment needs of patients with diabetes.

Lead author of the new study Professor Leif Groop, of the Lund University Diabetes Centre (LUDC), Sweden, and Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), said: “Evidence suggests that early treatment for diabetes is crucial to prevent life-shortening complications.

“More accurately diagnosing diabetes could give us valuable insights into how it will develop over time, allowing us to predict and treat complications before they develop.

WATCH This presentation on how to reverse diabetes.

He added: “Existing treatment guidelines are limited by the fact they respond to poor metabolic control when it has developed, but do not have the means to predict which patients will need intensified treatment.

“This study moves us towards a more clinically useful diagnosis, and represents an important step towards precision medicine in diabetes.

”Research bodies into the condition in the UK welcomed the “promising” new study.

Dr Emily Burns, Head of Research Communications, said: “Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different conditions, but we don’t yet know enough about the subtypes that could exist within them.

“Finding those subtypes will help us personalise treatments and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications in the future.

“This research takes a promising step toward breaking down Type 2 diabetes in more detail, but we still need to know more about these subtypes before we can understand what this means for people living with the condition.

“For example, whether we’d find the same subtypes in people of different ethnicity or nationality.”