First ever trial to prevent type 1 diabetes in babies to start soon
Posted on 11 July 2018
The NHS and the University of Oxford are inviting pregnant women to take part in the world’s first clinical trial to prevent type 1 diabetes in babies and infants.
Researchers want to find out if giving tiny doses of insulin powder to babies can prevent type 1 diabetes in those found to be at genetic risk of the condition.
Why are they doing this trial?
There is currently no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. The condition develops when the immune system recognises molecules, including insulin, as dangerous, and sets out to destroy the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
This study, named POInT for Primary Oral Insulin Trial, aims to get the immune system used to insulin from birth and protect infants from ever developing type 1 diabetes.
The study is part of an international effort to find a way to prevent type 1 diabetes, funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust. JDRF has helped to fund previous work leading up to this study, including the genetic risk markers used in this trial.
What will the trial entail?
Healthcare professionals routinely collect blood from newborns through the heel-prick test, which is used to screen for serious conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.
To take part in this study, mothers will be asked for their consent to analyse the blood sample for genetic risk of type 1 diabetes through a programme called INGR1D – INvestigating Genetic Risk for type 1 Diabetes. This screening is available for all babies, not just those with a family connection to type 1.
Parents of babies found to have a higher risk of type 1 diabetes will then be offered the chance to take part in POInT, to see if feeding babies tiny amounts of insulin every day for three years can protect them from developing type 1 diabetes.
The hope is that regular amounts of insulin powder will train the immune system to accept the body’s own insulin and prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Half of the participants will receive insulin powder, and the other half a placebo or ‘dummy’ powder. This is so that researchers can test how effective the insulin powder treatment is in preventing type 1 diabetes.
Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said of the trial:
“This research builds on the strengths of Professor John Todd’s JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory, which JDRF has been proud to support over the long term. We are delighted to have helped make possible the genetics work John and his colleagues have carried out for many years, and we are excited about the potential of this trial.”
What does this mean for type 1?
If we could find a way to prevent type 1 from ever developing in people, it could bring us one step closer to eradicating the condition for good.
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