Save for later

Diabetes UK hails “ground-breaking” neonatal diabetes study

Thumbnail

Diabetes UK has welcomed a ground breaking study that shows how genetic testing can lead to better care for children withneonatal diabetes.The study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Diabetes UK and led by a team at the University of Exeter, looks at the results of genetic testing for the 22 known genetic causes of neonatal diabetes, a rare form of diabetes that is diagnosed in children aged under six months, and results from genetic changes that affect insulin production.The study found that the time taken for babies to receive genetic testing after being diagnosed with neonatal diabetes has fallen from over four years to under two months in the past ten years. In addition, genetic testing has also improved, so that it is now possible to test all genes in a single test rather than testing one gene at a time.This means that doctors are now able to make a precise diagnosis at a much earlier stage, which provides crucial information about how best to treat children with neonatal diabetes. Genetic testing can also predict medical problems that children with neonatal diabetes are likely to develop in the future, which means that doctors can start to develop treatments to prevent or reduce their impact.The study authors say that this form of genetic testing has the potential to help treat other rare health conditions and could be applied to other branches of medicine.Dr Alasdair Rankin, Diabetes UK Director of Research, said: "It’s vital that children with neonatal diabetes get early access to genetic testing, so they can receive the correct treatment as soon as possible. We are proud to have supported this ground breaking work, which has capitalised on recent genetic advances to boost our understanding and make a real difference to the lives of children with this rare condition.”Unlike Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, neonatal diabetes is caused by a single genetic change. It is not an autoimmune condition and has no link to weight gain. It effects about 1 in 100,000 babies born.Professor Andrew Hattersley, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “In the last decade, we have shown that making a precise diagnosis from genetic testing results in improved treatment and hence we now get samples soon after diabetes is diagnosed from patients throughout the world.  Now the ability to test all genes in a single test means we are able to accurately inform patients and their doctors - not just about the best treatment but also about likely medical problems before they have started.  This means doctors can start to develop treatment to either prevent or improve these problems. It is a new way of practising medicine.”  

Brand Icons/Telephone check - FontAwesome icons/tick icons/uk