Univ. of Virginia Center for Public Health Genomics’ Investigator Pursues Simple Genetic Test for Type 1 Diabetes

Univ. of Virginia Center for Public Health Genomics’ Investigator Pursues Simple Genetic Test for Type 1 Diabetes

Researchers at the Center for Public Health Genomics at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) have developed a test that they think could predict the risk of type 1 diabetes. This would be a huge deal—preventing the situation where children are hospitalized in life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis.

The Situation

Type 1 diabetes affects 1 in 300 children and occurs as the autoimmune system destroys the immune-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The risk for type 1 diabetes is 50% genetic and 50% environmental, reports Stephen Rich, PhD, FAHA, director of the Center for Public Health Genomics. See his paper Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity on the role of genetics in type 1 diabetes. Rich notes that innovation in the field of genomic mapping offers a wealth of data that can be leveraged for analysis on how to improve the prediction of risk and potentially improved evaluation of treatment efficacy.

Challenges

There is no single gene responsible for type 1 diabetes, which makes testing even more difficult. Rather, numerous gene variants play a role and could predict as many as 90% of the cases.

The Test

The researchers have developed a...

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