The IU School of Medicine (IUSM) is one of 18 international sites involved in two studies seeking ways to reverse or delay the onset of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and to identify risk factors for the disease. The kickoff for the studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was announced by Tommy Thompson, U.S. secretary of health and human services.
There are 18 clinical sites in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia recently designated as Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Centers. Dr. Henry Rodriguez, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology, is the principal investigator of the TrialNet Center at IUSM. Co-investigator of the study is Dr. Mark Pescovitz, professor of surgery and of microbiology and immunology, and director of the Clarian Transplant Center, Division of Organ Transplant Surgery.
One study will probe the risk factors and biological basis of type 1 diabetes in at-risk individuals. First-degree relatives (parents and siblings) between the ages of 1 and 45 years, and second-degree relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) between the ages of 1 and 20 years, of individuals with type 1 diabetes will be enrolled in the study. Participants will be screened, which involves a simple blood test for auto-antibodies that appear in at-risk people years before diabetes develops. Participants will be closely monitored for signs of diabetes and may be offered the opportunity to participate in studies that try to stop the disease process.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the bodyís immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The hormone insulin is needed to convert glucose into energy. Most people when diagnosed still have some functioning beta cells, but as the disease progresses, the immune system destroys these cells making it harder to control blood glucose. Future TrialNet studies will seek to delay or stop the immune destruction of beta cells.
The second study will look at environmental factors that may contribute to the onset of type 1diabetes. Scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as diet or childhood infection, may increase a personís susceptibility to the disease.
Participants in both studies will be seen at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children and the IU Hospital.
"These new studies will help researchers learn more about preventing and treating type 1 diabetes," said Rodriguez. "Although known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 can develop in people of all ages and can have a devastating impact on quality of life issues for children and adults."
Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases. Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease, is associated with aging, obesity and family history, as well as with some ethnic groups. Nearly 18. 2 million people or 6.3 percent of the U.S. population have diabetes. Diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputation and new onset blindness. It also is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
For information or to enroll in the studies, call Jody Barnhorst or Linda Amstutz toll free at 1-866-230-8486; E-mail email@example.com.