In 2017, the landmark Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) revealed that type 2 diabetes can be reversed in some adults by following an intensive weight management programme, but no-one knew why.
Now, new research being presented at this year's European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting suggests that remission is dependent on whether insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are able to recover and function normally.
The finding challenges current medical consensus that beta-cell function is irreversibly lost in people with type 2 diabetes.
The study led by Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University in the UK provides further evidence that losing fat from around the liver and pancreas is key to putting type 2 diabetes into remission, but suggests that remission can only be achieved if it results in improved function of pancreatic beta cells so they can restart their insulin production.
Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas that helps glucose in the blood enter cells in the muscle, fat, and liver to be used as energy.