A national network of diabetes centres has just launched a program to identify children and young adults who are destined to develop Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
This program is expected to help prevent serious illness when diabetes is diagnosed and accelerate progress towards effective prevention.
T1D affects one in 200 Australians. It commonly develops in childhood and currently there is no cure.
At diagnosis one in three children have ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication that requires urgent treatment in hospital.
The program is being led by the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), but comprises of 10 diabetes centres around the country.
RMH endocrinologist Associate Professor John Wentworth led the rollout of the program and explains, “current treatment of type 1 diabetes places large demands on individuals and their families because they need to test blood glucose several times each day to ensure correct insulin dosing to match their meals.”
“The Type1Screen program hopes to alleviate this treatment burden by detecting disease early, when treatments other than insulin can be used,” A/Prof Wentworth said.
This program will allow for members of the community to have their antibody blood test done at a local collection centre, with the hope this accessibility will have a major impact on future outcomes.
People who test positive are connected with their nearest diabetes centre for further assessment, monitoring and support.
Patients who do test positive will also be offered opportunities to participate in prevention studies like the recent TrialNet study of Teplizumab, which was shown to delay diagnosis by two years.
It’s hoped the program will eventually screen the general population, from which most new diagnoses are made.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the type 1 diabetes community. It will afford opportunities to prevent serious illness at diagnosis and will bring us closer to finding a cure through prevention,” A/Prof Wentworth said.
The Type1Screen network is funded by JDRF Australia. It comprises 10 diabetes centres located in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.