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People are Developing Diabetes After COVID-19, According to a Research

  • Some COVID-19 patients have been developing signs of diabetes after infection.

  • This has scientists asking if COVID-19 could trigger diabetes.

  • Early findings suggest that the coronavirus could be prompting the pancreas to self-destruct.

The coronavirus could be harming vital cells in the pancreas and leaving people with diabetes, in accordance to new research being pursued by scientists. The relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes is poorly understood and scientists don't yet have definitive answers.

But as the pandemic progressed, a growing number of reports suggested that people who caught COVID-19 were noticing diabetes symptoms for the first time. It is too quickly to say whether the condition is permanent.

"Clearly there's a link, there's some sort of mechanism that makes the diseases fuel one another," Francesco Rubino chair of metabolic surgery at King's College London, told Insider. "The question is whether new-onset diabetes could be caused by this virus."

Diabetes is an excess of blood sugar, caused when the body is either not producing enough insulin, the hormone which lowers the blood sugar, or is becoming resistant to it. One theory was that the body could be confusing pancreas cells for the coronavirus, and trying to destroy them. This would disrupt insulin furnish and purpose diabetes, the scientists thought. But research suggests something else could be going on: the virus may be altering the pancreas, prompting it to destroy itself.

Pancreas malfunction

A hallmark of diabetes seen after COVID-19 is the extremely high levels of blood sugar people produce. These, in turn, need high doses of insulin to counteract, Shiubing Chen, a researcher at the Department of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine, told Insider.

"This suggests there may be some acute damage of the pancreas," Chen said.

To understand what is happening in the pancreas, Chen and her team looked at autopsy samples from five donors with COVID-19. They additionally gave the coronavirus to cells taken from healthy human pancreases in a laboratory.

Their findings were posted in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Metabolism on August 3.

The researchers found that after infection, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas started acting strangely. They made much less insulin and alternatively started making glucagon - the chemical which has the opposite effect. The cells additionally started making trypsin, a digestive enzyme, and chemokines, a type of substance that tells the immune system cells are sick and should be destroyed.

Whether this effect is severe enough to cause diabetes to develop where before there was none is something "we do not know yet," Chen said.

Source: Business Insider

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