Professor Grant Morahan, Director of the Centre for Diabetes Research at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, is working with Dr Joey Kaye, Director of the Diabetes Clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, to develop a test that could indicate a person’s chances of developing type 1 diabetes.
The test, could also predict the risk for those with the condition developing diabetic complications.
“A test that can be applied at the time of diagnosis and predict someone’s lifetime risk of developing diabetic complications – which range from diabetic coma to kidney failure – will be a great help to the children affected, their families, and the clinicians caring for them, as well as saving vital health dollars,” said Professor Morahan.
“Likewise, a test that gives us the ability to be able to say that brothers or sisters of a child with type 1 diabetes will likely remain unaffected will also provide relief to anxious families.”
Professor Morahan said this project would build on his team’s recent breakthroughs in identifying particular genetic signatures that define six different genetic subtypes of type 1 diabetes.
“We’ve discovered that the specific genetic signature a person with type 1 diabetes has indicates the type of health complications they may develop. For example, those with subtypes 2 and 4 are more likely to have kidney damage while those with subtype 3 seem to be more protected from that complication,” he said.
“Knowing what subtype a person has can give doctors more accurate information to manage treatments that suit that person.”
Professor Morahan’s team has also discovered that if brothers or sisters of a person with type 1 diabetes have a different genetic signature to their affected sibling they are significantly less likely to develop the condition.
“It is very important to confirm these results and then design a test to make use of our powerful new knowledge,” said Professor Morahan.
It is hoped 400 people with type 1 diabetes that are cared for at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, together with their unaffected siblings, will volunteer to be part of the new study.