New research funded by Diabetes UK suggests that a novel method of screening babies and adults for risk of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the future could be much more effective than current methods.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and the Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle have developed a new risk score which takes into consideration genetic information known to increase the likelihood of T1D. This could be helpful in identifying babies with significant future risk of developing the condition. The score may also be used during the time of diabetes diagnosis to differentiate between T1D and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The risk score named T1DGRS2 utilises genetic data obtained through analysis of key regions of the genome.
For developing the risk score, researchers analysed genetic variations and interactions across the entire genome in 6581 individuals with T1D and compared it with 9247 control participants. Using simulations, they determined how the test fared in comparison with the current genetic methods of diagnosis and screening.
Currently, early diagnosis of T1D can be done using measurement of islet autoantibodies; however, the technique is expensive and difficult in young children. Several cases of T1D developing in adulthood are often misdiagnosed as T2D. The new risk score could help clinicians to make the correct diagnosis in early stages.
Anna Morris from Diabetes UK said: "It's exciting to see the power of genetics being harnessed to help predict who might develop Type 1 diabetes in the future, particularly from a young age. If successful, this approach could help to reduce someone's risk of being misdiagnosed or developing complications during diagnosis.”