Researchers from Melbourne have led a global collaboration to develop a simplified blood test that increases the overall screening efficiency for type 1 diabetes.

As a disease that requires lifelong treatment of insulin, type 1 diabetes can affect individuals of all ages. Current screening methods to identify those who are at risk are costly and logistically difficult.

The study, led by researchers from the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), showed that a single finger prick blood test could be used in place of the current method of multiple venous blood samples during a two hour oral glucose tolerance test.

Researchers have analysed data from four different studies from participants aged two to 45 years and in their first and second stage of the disease.

The group of researchers, from Australia, Sweden, Canada, United States and Germany, compared a large number of oral glucose tolerance tests from 3,500 people throughout the course of many years.

The study, led by RMH endocrinologist and WEHI clinician-scientist Associate Professor John Wentworth found the simple blood test was able to provide the same information and was far less invasive, particularly for young children.

“For several years, we have believed that multiple blood samples increased the accuracy of the oral glucose tolerance tests,” he said.

“What we found, is that the blood sample taken two hours after the glucose drink predicted a clinical diagnosis with high accuracy.”

Information collected from the study will lead to improved screening efficiency and early diagnosis and treatment for type 1 diabetes.

This work was made possible with support from JDRF, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Victorian Government.

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