Major grant to develop childhood type 1 diabetes screening test

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A type 1 diabetes screening test for children is being developed in a bid to try and prevent the condition.
JDRF, which focuses on funding research to help eventually cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and complications associated with condition, has provided a US diagnostic company with a grant of $700,000 (£519,000). The money will be used to find a way of testing young people for the condition using their saliva or blood.
Enable, a UC Berkeley and Stanford StartX diagnostic company, will work together with JDRF and Stanford’s Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes over the next two years to expand a method called antibody detection by agglutination-PCR (ADAP). This method can be used to identify which children are most at risk of type 1 diabetes.
The grant will help to expand this process by funding comparisons between blood and saliva, and develop a type 1 diabetes spit test for screening use.
Enable was previously given funding from the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and was asked to investigate whether the ADAP method could be used to detect autoantibodies for insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, before type 1 diabetes fully develops.
Type 1 diabetes is normally diagnosed in childhood, and it is thought about 90% of young people who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes, although the number of type 2 diabetes diagnoses are on the increase.
There is still very little information known about why type 1 diabetes develops in some people as the condition is not always genetically linked.
Jessica Dunne, JDRF’s director of research said: “JDRF is excited about the potential of the Enable technology to detect autoantibodies in a small amount of saliva or blood.
“Prevention is a vital part of JDRF’s mission to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes, and an assay like this could remove obstacles and serve as a critical step toward being able to screen all kids for risk of T1D.”
Benedict Jephcote, Editor of Diabetes.co.uk, said: “Whilst prevention is a great hope for the future, an early screening could serve an immediate purpose in helping to diagnose children early and prevent the risk of ketoacidosis occurring before a diagnosis is given.”