A world-first research programme to identify adults at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes has been launched in the UK. The Type 1 Diabetes Risk in Adults (T1DRA) study aims to recruit 20000 participants, aged between 18 and 70 years, from the general population to assess their risk.
Although more than half of type 1 diabetes diagnoses are in adults, adult-onset type 1 diabetes is not well understood. T1DRA hopes to answer critical questions about its development and provide an idea of how many adults in the UK are at increased risk of developing the condition.
T1DRA is open to those with no close family members with type 1 diabetes. The research team will send test kits to participants in the post. Finger-prick blood samples will be screened for islet autoantibodies, which are markers for the development of type 1 diabetes that can appear in the blood years, or even decades, before symptoms are experienced.
Those identified as being at high risk will be followed by the research team to see how many go on to develop type 1 diabetes, how quickly they progress to a diagnosis, and to identify any genetic, biological or environmental factors that can be linked with symptoms developing quickly. They will also be provided with the opportunity to receive type 1 diabetes education and monitoring, and access to clinical trials looking at new treatments that could delay or prevent the condition.
T1DRA follows on the heels of ELSA (EarLy Surveillance for Autoimmune diabetes) study, a nationwide type 1 screening trial for children. ELSA is aiming to screen 20000 children, aged 3–13 years. Together, these rollouts mean that the UK is the first country in the world to offer general population screening for type 1 diabetes for children and adults.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, commented that the trials place the UK “at the forefront of research that will bring us closer to the day when risk of type 1 diabetes can be spotted early, and a diagnosis prevented.”
People can sign up to the T1DRA study here: t1dra.bristol.ac.uk.