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New knowledge about kidney disease risk for African-Caribbean people with type 1

JDRF’s Director of Policy and Communications, Hilary Nathan, on new study findings.

A hand holding a plastic model of a kidney

A new study reveals people of an African–Caribbean ethnicity with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of developing kidney complications. In fact, people from African-Caribbean backgrounds are nearly 60% more at risk of developing advanced kidney disease compared to people with type 1 from other ethnicities. Plus, the research shows this increased risk is not linked to other factors such as blood pressure or glucose levels.

A gap in type 1 diabetes research

It’s an important initial research study which starts to fill a gap in knowledge of how type 1 diabetes could progress differently across ethnic populations. This only coming to light now demonstrates that this area needs more research and funding.

Personalised medicine

With more research evidence, future treatments could effectively reduce type 1 diabetes complications based on patients’ individual ethnicity and biology. This could herald a form of personalised medicine.

Kidney disease research is crucial

Kidney disease has a devastating impact on people and their families. So, halting the onset and progression among people with type 1 is a key area of research focus.

A strong research study

Researchers at King’s College London conducted the study, which was published in the Diabetes Care Journal. They used NHS data from 5,000 people with type 1 over eight years across a diverse South London population.

The diversity of the NHS patient data is a particular strength of the study. This is because it allows for the risk factors across ethnicity and socio-economic class to be compared and controlled for.

More diversity needed in research

Typically, US and European clinical research trials tend to have an over-representation of White trial participants. Additionally, most medical research occurs in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia. This means the places where clinical research trials are conducted may miss important risk factors for African-Caribbean populations.

More information

For all these reasons, this research study is an important step forward in knowledge. For more information, read our press release or the full research report. This study by King’s College London was supported by a research grant from Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital Charity.

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