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Diabetic genetic test

UK researchers develop genetic diabetes diagnostic test

Researchers devised a test which measures 30 genetic variants in DNA and combines all the risks associated with them in a single score

Researchers at University of Exeter have developed a new test to help diagnoses diabetes, which they say will lead to more effective diagnosis and patient care. Research published in the journal Diabetes Care, shows how a genetic test can help doctors to differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes in young adults. The Exeter team has devised a genetic risk score which can help identify people between 20 and 40 who will require insulin treatment.

"This will be an important addition to correctly classifying individuals with diabetes and will improve the number of people who get the right treatment when they are first diagnosed, especially people who sit in the overlap between type 1 and type 2 diagnosis," said Dr Richard Oram, National Institute for Health Research Clinical Lecturer and specialist in Diabetes and Nephrology at the University of Exeter Medical School. "There is often no going back once insulin treatment starts. This may save people with Type 2 diabetes from being treated with insulin unnecessarily, but also stop the rare but serious occurrence of people with Type 1 being initially treated with tablets inappropriately and running of the risk of severe illness."

In work supported by National Institute for Health Research NIHR and the Wellcome Trust, the Exeter researchers devised a test which measures 30 genetic variants in DNA and combines all the risks associated with them in a single score, which can then act as a summary of genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. If a person's score is high they are likely to have type 1 diabetes, if it is low then it will be type 2.

The researchers believe this will provide important additional information for doctors when making a diagnosis and suggest that the test can be used in addition to an existing commonly used test which measures anti-bodies.

"Having this information about their diabetes and about their genetic risk will make a big difference to the way people feel about their care. If you speak to people with diabetes they often want to know why they have developed the disease and whether some of their risk for the disease is genetic," added Oman.

The Exeter team is now working to develop a test that any clinical laboratory could run cheaply and quickly. 

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