This is not new news.... it is fairly well accepted in the scientific literature.
The pancreas has a large number beta cells -more than you need - and an extremely large fraction have to be destroyed before metabolic control fails and BG starts to become abnormal. The estimate is more than 80% have to be destroyed before control fails. The autoimmune process can "simmer" for some time before this happens. Auto-antibodies can be detected in people developing type 1 while their BG is still normal and in control.... no one ever thinks to screen though, except in the case where there are a number of T1s in a family.
When it does fail, though ,the results are dramatic and fast.
The latency period can be as short as a few months or as long as a decade. That is also why there is some hope of arresting the process and/or restoring function.
Another reference is the New England Journal of Medicine, June 23, 2005.Insulin Needs after CD3-Antibody Therapy in New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes
THe authors say in an interview :
The new therapy relies on the fact that people with type 1 diabetes do not lose their ability to make insulin all at once. "Diabetes is preceded by an incubation period that can be as short as months or as long as over a decade," Insel explained. "Overt diabetes does not occur until the beta cell reserves fall by about 80 percent."
The researchers sought to intervene before reserves hit that 80 percent mark. Eighty patients with new-onset type 1 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either a new antibody or a placebo for six consecutive days.
The antibody was directed against CD3 (ChAglyCD3), a molecule on the surface of T-cells. The antibody does not actually kill the T-cells, Insel explained, but rather "resets" them.
People who received the antibody had higher residual beta-cell function than people who received the placebo. Although no participants were able to give up insulin altogether, people in the antibody group needed less insulin, while people in the placebo group needed increasing amounts of the hormone as time wore on.
The antibody also worked better on people who started with a higher level of beta-cell function (50 percent or more).
There was one notable side effect: the antibody produced flu-like symptoms and symptoms of Epstein-Barr viral mononucleosis.
And, the study's lead author pointed out, the research only involved adults.