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Trial aims to diagnose diabetes in young people

A screening programme that can detect type 1 diabetes up to ten years before symptoms are visible has recently launched in Greater Manchester.

Trialnet is a network of 18 clinical centres with more than 200 screening site throughout the world. The network is dedicated to the study, prevention and early treatment of type 1 diabetes. TrialNet is supported by other major diabetes organisations including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, National Institute of Health Research, Medicines for Children Research Network and the Wellcome Trust, which is based at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

The rate of type 1 diabetes is rising worldwide, with the greatest increases seen in children under the age of five. There is no proven way to slow down or prevent Type 1 diabetes, but it is thought that identifying those with the condition means they can be closely monitored and join research studies testing for ways to delay or treat the condition.

Dr Ian Doughty, a paediatric consultant at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital said, "This is an important study looking at how Type 1 diabetes develops and what can be done to prevent it. It is a study that's taking place worldwide, so it is very good that families from Manchester and the North West can be involved. I hope that as many people as possible who think they could be at risk of type 1 diabetes take the opportunity to be screened for the disease."

TrialNet offers a simple blood test that can identify if a person has an increased risk for Type 1 diabetes up to ten years before symptoms appear. The symptoms of diabetes can appear suddenly but research suggests that the potential risk can be detected years before these symptoms appear, creating a window of opportunity when measures can be taken to attempt to delay or prevent the disease. Early diagnosis makes it possible to avoid dangerous complications that can occur when diabetes goes undetected. It may also help the body make insulin for a longer period of time.

The blood test looks for certain markers in the blood (called autoantibodies) which signal an increased risk of the disease. For relatives of people with Type 1 diabetes, only five out of 100 will have these markers.

Screening is offered to those aged 45 and under, who have a parent, brother, sister or child with type 1 diabetes and those aged 18 and under with a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, grandparent, half-brother, half-sister or cousin with type 1 diabetes. Those testing negative for the disease will have the opportunity to be screened every year until they are 18.

Screening is currently taking place at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, and it is hoped that more sites will be soon be able to offer the test.


Notes to editors

For more information about TrialNet, please ask your GP or contact 0800 634 0102 or email trialnet@wtcrf.nhs.uk

More information about type 1 diabetes:

  • Also known as insulin dependent diabetes (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes
  • Usually develops before the age of 30 and requires insulin treatment immediately
  • Autoimmune condition which destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin