Scientific title: Beyond education: A Hypoglycaemia Awareness Restoration Program for people with type 1 diabetes and problematic hypoglycaemia persisting despite optimised self-care (HARPdoc)
Principal investigator: Professor Stephanie Amiel
Institution: King’s College London
Up to 30 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes have some degree of hypoglycaemia unawareness, meaning that they don’t develop, or don’t recognise, the symptoms of a hypo. This can significantly increase their risk of a severe hypo.
Professor Stephanie Amiel is trying to find out if a talking therapy programme called HARPdoc can ‘re-wire’ the brain and restore hypo awareness in people with type 1.
What will Professor Amiel do?
Research has shown that many people with hypo unawareness have thoughts and beliefs about their hypoglycaemia that stop them benefitting from current treatments. Professor Amiel and her team have developed a new programme to help people recognise and address these ‘thinking traps’ to bring back the symptoms that are needed.
In a pilot study, the team offered the programme to 24 people who had been unable to regain their awareness of hypoglycaemia or stop severe hypoglycaemia occurring. After one year, they were no longer having the severe hypos they had experienced for years before.
How will this research help people with type 1?
Hypoglycaemia unawareness is a major barrier to people with type 1 diabetes managing their blood glucose safely. Professor Amiel’s work could restore the brain’s awareness of hypoglycaemia, saving up to 30 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes from the fear of a sudden, severe hypo – and enabling them to more effectively manage their blood glucose levels.
Is JDRF funding any other research like this?
In the UK, we are funding Professor Pratik Choudhary to scan HARPdoc participants’ brains to find out if the treatment can ‘re-wire’ the brain and restore hypo awareness in people with type 1.
JDRF also funds Dr Paul Weightman-Potter to study the way the brain detects hypos, to search for new ways to treat hypoglycaemia unawareness.