Genetic differences help distinguish type 1 diabetes in children from ‘type 1.5’ in adults

Philadelphia, January, 2020–A multi-center team of researchers led by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has discovered a genetic signature that could help distinguish an adult-onset form of diabetes sharing many type 1 diabetes (T1D) characteristics from pediatric-onset T1D, opening the door to potentially more straightforward diagnostic tests for the adult condition and improving responses by ensuring patients receive the most appropriate treatment.

“This is our first insight into genetic differences between latent autoimmune diabetes in adults and T1D in children that may be diagnostically useful,” said study leader Struan Grant, PhD, Co-Director of the Center for Spatial and Functional Genomics at CHOP and the Daniel B. Burke Endowed Chair for Diabetes Research. “We have found a genetic means of discriminating between the two conditions without expensive and cumbersome anti-autobody screening.”

The study was published online December 16, 2019 in Diabetes Care.

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is sometimes referred to as “type 1.5 diabetes” because it shares characteristics of both T1D and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Like T1D, LADA produces autoantibodies that attack the body’s insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. However, like those with T2D, patients with LADA are diagnosed in adulthood and do not require insulin at the time of diagnosis. For this reason, LADA is often misdiagnosed as T2D; studies have shown that up to 10% of T2D diagnoses are, in fact, LADA, and as a result patients do not respond to the commonly inappropriate treatments prescribed to them.

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