The researchers analysed certain characteristics - such as body weight, blood sugar control and presence of antibodies - against the likelihood of disease complications and need for insulin. So far, medical researchers only knew of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the findings may usher in a change in how the disease is treated.
Some of the overlapping features include the fact that clusters 3, 4 and 5 were prescribed similar anti-diabetic treatment and they responded well.
"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", says the lead author Professor Leif Groop, Lund University Diabetes Centre, Sweden. In it, they created five categories of diabetes instead of two.
Stemming from the All New Diabetics in Scania cohort, 8,980 Swedish patients newly diagnosed with diabetes were included in the hierarchical clustering. The person is completely unable to produce insulin and relies on lifelong insulin.
Type 2 is also a lifelong condition, which generally develops later in life. Bodies of largely overweight people no longer respond to insulin being produced. Management ranges from dietary control or medication through to daily insulin injections.
What did the research involve?
The researchers plan to launch similar studies in China and India. New research confirms that in general it's most commonly diagnosed in the young. The only difference was that Group 5 was larger in Finland than in Skåne. It now affects 3.7 million people in the UK.
GADAs are antibodies linked with what is known as late-onset autoimmune diabetes (LADA).
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition controlled by insulin injections.
"However, elevations in blood glucose can be caused by a number of genetic and acquired factors that reduce the circulating concentrations of insulin or decrease its effectiveness, leading to heterogeneity in the clinical presentation and progression of the disease".
Cluster 1: A severe autoimmune condition whereby the body attacks and destroys insulin producing cells, meaning that the body doesn't produce any insulin and as a result blood sugar levels are not controlled.
Thus, the need for new and better treatment options is great, Lund University said in a statement.
The rest were fairly young and not obese, but had severe forms of diabetes. The province has extended the coverage to people belonging to the age group of 18 to 25 years.
Cluster 4 - mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically were closer to normal than those in cluster 3.
Cluster 5: Mild age-related diabetes is the biggest group, mostly elderly patients. Identified in 39% of the people in ANDIS.
There are five distinct types of diabetes rather than two, suggests Scandinavian research published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, OnMedica reports. He also added that future studies should investigate the effects of age on diabetes in patients.
Four million people in the United Kingdom have diabetes, with 90 per cent suffering from Type 2.
The findings might help to better tailor early treatment for patients, and might be a first step towards precision medicine, say the researchers.