Early detection and prevention: The 2 keys to combat type 1 diabetes symptoms



    MONTREAL, Nov. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Over two million Canadians are diabetic,
and around 10 percent of these individuals suffer from type 1 diabetes. Given
these high numbers, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) joined forces
at the end of the 1990s with TrialNet, an international network of health
centres. This partnership has allowed the MUHC to provide free type 1 diabetes
screening tests to relatives of diabetic patients. Those found to be "at risk"
can now enroll in a prevention study. Starting in October 2007, the study will
be headed by Dr. Constantin Polychronakos, Director of the MUHC's Pediatric
Endocrinology and Metabolism Division at the Montreal Children's Hospital, and
coordinated by Ms. Diane Laforte, Medical Research Administrator of the
PRUDENT Clinical Research Unit.
    The TrialNet screening test performed at the MUHC is mainly geared to
immediate family members (siblings, parents and children) of type 1 diabetes
patients. These individuals have an approximate 5% risk of developing the
disease, which is fifteen times higher than the risk for the general
population. The test consists of a simple blood sample that will initially be
used to make an assay of antibodies that are typical of type 1 diabetes. This
will determine the risk-level of the person.
    "For those who are detected at high risk for type 1 diabetes, the next
step is a genetic study to find out if their immune system mistakes insulin
for a foreign body", explains Ms Laforte. This second question is particularly
important, as type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that leads immune cells
called T lymphocytes to destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
In 50% of cases, a genetic error expressed through the T lymphocytes leads to
this destruction by causing the cells to identify insulin as an alien
substance. This error is what the test is designed to detect.
    Researchers hypothesize that having people with this genetic error take
oral insulin prior to the on-set of type 1 diabetes symptoms may allow their
immune systems to develop a tolerance to the hormone and may decrease the
destruction rate of insulin-producing cells. The upcoming prevention study
will put this hypothesis to the test with the help of "at risk" volunteers.
The study will last approximately seven years.
    "Combining the screening test with the prevention study is an evolution
towards personalized medicine that treats patients based on their own
characteristics and not according to general symptoms," said Dr Polychronakos.
"This is a major development, and anyone at risk may want to take advantage of
this opportunity."
    More information on TrialNet and its programs can be found on-line at
www.diabetestrialnet.org. To contact the TrialNet team in Montreal, contact
Diane Laforte via e-mail at: dianel.laforte@muhc.mcgill.ca .

    The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic
health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical
programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching
hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University-the
Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal
Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on
the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the
MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the
health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.
www.muhc.ca

    The Montreal Children's Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of
the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The institution is a leader in the
care and treatment of sick infants, children, and adolescents from across
Quebec. The Montreal Children's Hospital provides a high level and broad scope
of health care services, and provides ultra specialized care in many fields
including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery,
traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and
musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully
bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an
increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages. www.thechildren.com




For further information:

For further information: Isabelle Kling, Communications Coordinator
(research), MUHC Public Relations and Communications, (514) 934-1934 #36419,
isabelle.kling@muhc.mcgill.ca


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