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Predicting Type 1 Diabetes at a Molecular Level

May 3, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute received a three-year, $857,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue to develop an assay shown to detect inflammation linked to the development of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) before patients are symptomatic.

Martin J. Hessner, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics, investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute, and director of the Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes at Children’s Hospital, is the primary investigator. Carla J. Greenbaum, M.D., director of the diabetes research program at the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, is co-primary investigator.

Many inflammatory diseases, including T1D, become evident only after tissue damage has progressed and patients show signs of illness.

The researchers have developed a bioassay that measures a T1D signature that indicates early signs of inflammation. In all cases studied in which patients developed T1D, the signature was evident prior to disease onset. In this study, the research team aims to define that signature as a quantitative early biomarker to stage the disease, and also to define disease-specificity of the signature for T1D.

This project could potentially lead to new technological developments that would help predict T1D in patients before the onset of symptoms, which would allow for earlier intervention and preservation of pancreatic function.

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