Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin receives grant to study early indicators of Type 1 diabetes
The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes received two grants totaling $400,000 from JDRF to study a biomarker identified as a potential predictive marker of the development of type 1 diabetes, and to identify pathways that could potentially lead to therapeutic interventions for patients who develop the disease.
Martin J. Hessner, PhD, professor of pediatrics at MCW, researcher at Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and director of the Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes, is the primary investigator of the studies.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person's immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. There is no “cure.” Three million Americans are living with T1D; the causes are believed to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors. People living with T1D must constantly monitor blood sugars, and are prone to complications including kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack, and stroke.
Dr. Hessner’s team recently developed a highly sensitive assay that detects subtle changes in the blood that appear to be early inflammatory markers of T1D—detected in patients up to five years before onset of T1D symptoms.
In the two studies, researchers will coordinate a collaborative, multicenter study to define the assay’s sensitivity to early T1D, and to distinguish T1D from other inflammatory diseases using the assay. The team will also develop a risk assessment index that incorporates the longitudinal data gleaned from study subjects.
“Successfully delaying or preventing type 1 diabetes depends on distinguishing patients that will progress to diabetes from those possessing inherited risk but who will never develop the disease. These generous grants from JDRF will allow us to answer this pressing scientific question in our quest to identify and halt the progress of this devastating disease,” said Dr. Hessner.