Simple blood test could transform testing for diabetes and end daily injections for some

by Barbara Hewitt on May 23, 2018

A simple blood test is set to transform the way people are diagnosed with diabetes and help manage the condition so that some may no longer need insulin injections.

Recently researchers have been looking at how there are more than just type 1 and type 2 diabetes and how a genetic form of the conditions needs to be treated differently.


(By ESB Professional/

Now researchers from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh have revealed how a blood test has identified previously unrecognised variants of diabetes, which could allow some people with type 1 diabetes patients to come off insulin.

The discovery came after a routine screening programme last year found that one patient had a genetic form of diabetes. Since then the C-peptide blood test has meant that several diabetics have been able to come off daily injections.

Traditionally, it had been believed that people with type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin so need daily treatment, but now doctors can tailor what is needed to the individual and for some it means no more daily injections.

Professor Mark Strachan, a consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at the hospital, believes that all diabetes patient should undergo the screening which is simple and low cost at just £6 per patient.

‘If we identify that somebody has a genetic type of diabetes, it can have a transformative effect on their life. Also, if we can establish that an individual has another form of diabetes, such as type 2 diabetes, again there may be alternative treatments to insulin that we can offer them,’ he said.

Sophie Fleming’s life has been transformed by the test. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of eight and had insulin injections every day and multiple blood pricks to monitor her glucose levels.

‘It was very restrictive and as a small child, there were birthday parties and birthday cakes. And as soon as you tell someone they can’t have something, they desperately want it. On being diagnosed, my mum said I cried every single night for six weeks,’ she said.

Throughout her teenage years, despite using an insulin pump, her diabetes was hard to manage. But when she was pregnant with her first child, doctors decided to carry out a blood test and to their amazement found she had a rare genetic form of the disease.

She now manages her condition with tablets rather than daily injections and her blood sugar levels are now the best they have ever been. ‘I didn’t quite believe that this would turn out the way they were expecting it to. After 27 years, I just didn’t think I’d be on anything but insulin,’ she added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 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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