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Predicting and preventing Type 1 diabetes

Published: May 3rd, 2014

Category: Feature

People at high risk for Type 1 diabetes have smaller pancreas than their counterparts with no risk factors. This important finding, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year by Martha Campbell-Thompson, Ph.D., and her team, has led to a large multi-center, multi-year study that will help researchers better understand the trajectory of the disease and may one day help lead to interventions to prevent it.

By using traditional, non-invasive tools such as MRI and ultrasound, University of Florida researchers including Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., Desmond Schatz, M.D., and Michael Haller, M.D., will measure and estimate the pancreas volumes of four sets of individuals: People at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes due to the presence of serum autoantibodies (those with single and multiple autoantibodies); people who have recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes; and people at little risk of developing the disease who are matched with the other groups based on age, gender, and BMI. They plan to recruit 100 patients per year for three years, from Florida and the southeast region.

The Pancreatic Volume in Preclinical Type 1 Diabetes study will help researchers determine whether people who are at high risk of Type 1 diabetes start out with smaller pancreas volume or whether the beginning of the onset of the disease causes the pancreas volume to shrink. Either conclusion will provide essential insight into this disease.

”We see this as a great potential aid for predicting who are at the highest risk for developing Type 1 diabetes,” Campbell-Thompson said. “We are hoping that this clinical screening process may become a new marker for a factor that leads to prevention strategies.”

Learn more about the study by calling (352) 273-5580 or visit us at diabetes.ufl.edu/research for more information.