Diabetes and osteoporosis research is a ‘hot topic’, says Dr Viral Shah

Viral Shah, MD, endocrinologist and scientist, discusses ongoing research into preventing bone fractures in people with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

After discussing his own research on type 1 diabetes (T1D) and the risk of bone fracture, Viral Shah, MD, endocrinologist and scientist, talks about the “resurgence of this interest” in research on T1D and osteoporosis.


What other exciting areas of research are being pursued in T1D and osteoporosis?

The field of diabetes and osteoporosis is becoming a hot topic. The reason is that we have many tools to manage type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. There are so many new drugs [and] diabetes technologies to deliver insulin automatically. With all of these advances, people are now living longer, and when people are living longer, especially with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, they also suffer from other comorbid conditions like cardiovascular disease, cognitive problems, and osteoporosis. I think there is a renewed interest in this area to understand how diabetes affects osteoporosis.

Many people work in this field. In particular, what I do in this area is I only focus on type 1 diabetes, not type 2, because that’s a totally different ball game. But in type 1 diabetes, one of my NIH-funded studies [National Institutes of Health] tries to look at bone tissue compositions and material properties and how they are different in people with type 1 diabetes compared to people without diabetes. So [we’re] trying to understand how diabetes would have influenced the material properties of bone tissue.

And then another study that I have, again funded by the NIH, we prospectively follow patients with type 1 diabetes and without diabetes and look at the change in bone structural properties by doing a CT scan of the hip. And trying to see what kind of factors would predict that kind of change in the property of bone structure. If we know what changes that, then we can probably make treatment decisions or studies in the future to prevent that. So hopefully some of these studies will provide some really interesting results and a future roadmap for preventing osteoporotic fractures in people with type 1 diabetes.

Jessica C. Bell