Scientists Find Possible Way to Detect Type 1 Diabetes Early in Children

by Barbara Hewitt on April 14, 2015

Doctors may be able to detect type 1 diabetes in children before they exhibit any symptoms of the disease, new research from Sweden shows.

Scientists has found that may be possible to detect type 1 diabetes in children before they show any symptoms and thus start treatment earlier.

kids-walkingResearch from Sweden involved examining the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) project and the team discovered four markers, or autoantibodies, in the blood of those taking part in the study.

The TEDDY study, which is funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), involves 8,600 children with an increased hereditary risk of type 1 diabetes from Sweden, the United States, Germany and Finland.

As type 1 diabetes occurs when beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the autoantibodies, measuring the levels of autoantibdodies in children’s blood indicates whether their immune system has started to attack beta cells.

According to lead researcher Ake Lernmark, from Sweden’s Lund University, the autoantibodies appear years before the disease is usually diagnosed.

He explained that the TEDDY study has discovered that the appearance of autoantibodies against insulin producing cells appear during the first years of life, but the disease is often not diagnosed until some 10 years later.

‘We now know where to look for the trigger we now know that we should look during the first years of life,’ Lernmark said.

Lernmark also pointed out that these triggers of type 1 diabetes in children have appeared at a much earlier stage than was previously possible. The team now wants to test all four year old children in Sweden.

‘For the first time it will allow the researchers to study the mechanisms that trigger this disease because in the past we didn’t know when to look. We have to look for the trigger during the first years of life, not in conjunction with the diagnosis of diabetes as that is too late,’ added Lernmark.

The team believe that it could lead to earlier treatment and that could mean lower doses of insulin are needed to treat the condition. It may even be possible to postpone or avoid symptoms as the disease develops.

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes at the moment, but Lernmark said a long term goal would be to find a vaccine. He explained that if it was found that a virus, for example, was responsible for triggering these autoantibodies, then it might be possible to make a vaccine against that virus.

 


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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