New Genetic Research Targeting Type 1 Diabetes Development

Type 1 diabetes diagnoses could become more reliable and lead to earlier diagnosis for patients thanks to new research findings. Two separate studies into the genetics behind type 1 were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes' annual meeting. One profiled the genetics of adult-onset type 1 diabetes, a little-understood phenomenon, and the other looked at how type 1 diabetes develops from juvenile diagnosis to after 30 years of age.

The studies used the United Kingdom's Biobank data, with the latter study following on from a study presented at the EASD meeting in 2016.

Differences in patterns between people who develop type 1 diabetes in adulthood were noted.

The first study, presented by Dr. Nicholas JM Thomas of the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, differences in the allele patterns of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) were noted between people who developed type 1 diabetes in adulthood (often called latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood, or LADA) versus those with childhood-onset type 1 and those with no diagnosis. Dr. Thomas believes that this could lead to more accurate genetic profiling to diagnose those at risk of diabetes earlier.

Genetic testing, he reasons, could be used to improve the genetic risk scores already associated with diabetes diagnoses and lead to better diagnosis outcomes by computing risk scores to profile diabetic types. This research in particular identified two specific genotypes are very closely associated with late-onset diabetes (LADA), which may dispel the "latent" belief and classify adult-onset type 1 as a separate issue.

The childhood to adulthood type 1 diabetes genetics research continues on from previous research.

Dr. Thomas also continued previous research regarding childhood-onset ("juvenile") diabetes and how it develops after the patient has reached 30 years of age. This research coincided with the adult-diabetes research presented. The end goal of both research trees is to develop the HLA scoring system into a clinical-use system for type 1 diabetes risk assessment and diagnosis.

Doctors and experts commenting at the presentation were hopeful that the HLA system could help with "gray area" cases, especially those in the 25-45 age group, which are difficult to diagnosis properly. Many adults with type 1 diabetes are misdiagnosed with type 2 as adult-onset type 1 is relatively rare and symptoms are very similar. Insulin treatments are thus delayed, leading to complications.

Dr. Thomas' research used Biobank information on 379,511 white Europeans aged 40 to 70 .

Source: Medscape.com

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