Research helping to identify infants at risk of type 1 diabetes

Newcastle Hospitals’ biggest study to date is helping to identify infants at risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the pancreas making insufficient insulin, a hormone which helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy.

It affects one in every 250 children born in the UK and a child is it a much higher risk of type 1 diabetes if their mother, father, brother, or sister has the condition.

There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes and treatment involves injecting insulin to help control blood sugar levels, but it can still be challenging to live with the condition.

No extra needles or bloods

The study, called INGR1D2, aims to identify infants at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes to study new treatments with the aim of preventing the development of the condition.

An infant’s genetic risk can be determined by carrying out an extra test on the routine newborn blood spot screening card at around five days old to check for serious health conditions.

Because the test can be performed on blood that is already being taken, there’s no extra needles or blood tests required.

If the test determines the baby is at increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes, they are invited to take part in a further study called SINT1A, which investigates whether a probiotic can prevent type 1 diabetes from developing.

Future of genetic testing

Eight other hospital sites are also running the study across the North East and so far more than 10,000 newborns have been tested and around 50 infants have been signed up to the SINT1A study, which is run by our Paediatric Research team at the RVI.

The INGR1D2 study is led by Professor Stephen Robson, Honorary Consultant Obstetrician at Newcastle Hospitals and Professor of Fetal Medicine at Newcastle University, and delivered by the trust’s reproductive health and paediatric research teams.

Prof. Robson said:

“INGR1D is about developing the capability of using genetics to screen infants for an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. We hope in the future that we can use this as a model to run other studies for various childhood disorders that could prevented if they are identified before they develop.

“The success of INGR1D2 is thanks to a tremendous team effort across the trust, including the neonatal research delivery team, informatics colleagues who have helped to set up systems to run the study, and the clinical research directorate’s research IT manager.

“I am very proud of everyone who has been involved and look forward to seeing the difference we can make applying modern genetic knowledge to prevent childhood disorders.”

The study is funded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and administered by the Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes (GPPAD).

GPPAD aims to provide an international infrastructure that will enable type 1 diabetes primary prevention trials. These clinical trials are built around programs that identify infants with an elevated genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes, and will aim to reduce the incidence of clinical diabetes in children.

For more information about the study, visit: GPPAD | Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes.

  • Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University are both part of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP). NHIP is one of eight prestigious Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) across the UK, bringing together partners to deliver excellence in research, health education and patient care.
  • The study is supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), which supports patients, the public and health and care organisations across England to participate in high-quality research.
Skip to content