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Developing a Type 1 diabetes genetic risk score

Project summary

Dr Michael Weedon and his colleagues are aiming to develop a simple genetic test that could predict the type of diabetes and the treatment required in young adults. They will combine this test with current methods for diagnosing diabetes, in order to produce a way to better classify diabetes. This could ensure that the correct treatment can be given very soon after people are recognised as having diabetes.

Background to research

Many young adults with diabetes are incorrectly treated because the type of diabetes they have is misdiagnosed. This problem is increasing, as rising obesity rates are leading to an increase in type 2 diabetes in young adults.

People with type 1 diabetes require insulin treatment at diagnosis, whereas people with type 2 or monogenic diabetes (a type of diabetes caused by an alteration in a single gene, like MODY) are often best treated with diet or tablets. Diagnosing the wrong type of diabetes can result in people unnecessarily taking daily insulin injections, poor control of blood glucose levels, and a range of potentially life threatening side-effects. 

Research aims

Dr Michael Weedon and his colleagues aim to develop a genetic test that can improve the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. They are initially aiming to bring a test using the type 1 diabetes genetic risk score into clinical practice, by integrating it with existing tests in their Exeter laboratory, for use in people where a diagnosis isn't clear.

They plan to develop an inexpensive test that can be used more widely in hospitals to support doctors to make the correct diagnosis, so that people can be given the right treatment sooner.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This work could ensure that people are given the right diagnosis - and therefore the right treatments - as soon as possible. This could have a direct impact on their quality of life and the successful management of their diabetes. 

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