Research helping to identify infants at risk of type 1 diabetes

By Editor
15th August 2023
Children, Research Type 1 diabetes

A study taking place at hospitals in the North East is helping to identify infants at risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes affects one in every 250 children born in the UK and a child is at a much higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes if their mother, father, brother, or sister also has the condition.

Newcastle Hospitals’ study, called INGR1D2, aims to identify infants at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes and study new treatments that could prevent the condition developing.

An infant’s genetic risk can be determined by carrying out an extra test on the routine newborn blood spot screening card at around five days old to check for serious health conditions.

Because the test can be performed on blood that is already being taken, there’s no extra needles or blood tests required.

If the test determines that the baby is at increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes, they are invited to take part in a further study called SINT1A, which investigates whether a probiotic can prevent the condition from developing.

In addition to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the study is also running at eight other hospital sites across the North East:

  • South Tyneside District Hospital
  • Cumberland Infirmary
  • Darlington Memorial Hospital
  • Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead
  • University Hospital of North Durham
  • The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough
  • University Hospital of North Tees
  • Sunderland Royal Hospital.

So far, more than 10,000 newborns have been tested and around 50 infants have been signed up to the SINT1A study, which is run by the paediatric research team at the RVI.

The INGR1D2 study is led by Professor Stephen Robson, honorary consultant obstetrician at Newcastle Hospitals and Professor of Fetal Medicine at Newcastle University and delivered by the trust’s reproductive health and paediatric research teams.

Professor Robson said: “INGR1D is about developing the capability of using genetics to screen infants for an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

“We hope in the future that we can use this as a model to run other studies for various childhood disorders that could prevented if they are identified before they develop.”

He added: “The success of INGR1D2 is thanks to a tremendous team effort across the trust, including the neonatal research delivery team, informatics colleagues who have helped to set up systems to run the study, and the clinical research directorate’s research IT manager.

“I am very proud of everyone who has been involved and look forward to seeing the difference we can make applying modern genetic knowledge to prevent childhood disorders.”

The study is funded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and administered by the Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes (GPPAD).

GPPAD aims to provide an international infrastructure that will enable type 1 diabetes primary prevention trials.

These clinical trials are built around programs that identify infants with an elevated genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes, and will aim to reduce the incidence of clinical diabetes in children.

The study is supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), which supports patients, the public and health and care organisations across England to participate in high-quality research.

Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash

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