A new genetic test can help doctors accurately identify which young adults will develop type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Exeter aimed to determine whether common genetic variants could be used to discriminate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and predict which young adults would require insulin treatment.
The research team devised a test that measured 30 genetic variants in DNA and combined the risks associated with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes in a single score.
They tested if these scores could distinguish clinically defined type 1 and type 2 diabetes using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, a group of 50 research groups across the UK.
The genetic risk scores acted as a summary of type 1 diabetes genetic risk, and were able to identify type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If a person’s score was high, they were likely to have type 1 diabetes, and if it was low, then they would have type 2 diabetes.
In young adults with diabetes, type 1 diabetes genetic risk factors predicted progression to insulin deficiency, and the Exeter researchers believe this test will provide doctors with invaluable information regarding diabetes diagnosis.
Dr Richard Oram, University of Exeter Medical School, said: “This will be an important addition to correctly classifying individuals with diabetes and will improve the number of people who get the right treatment when they are first diagnosed, especially people who sit in the overlap between type 1 and type 2 diagnosis.
“There is often no going back once insulin treatment starts. This may save people with type 2 diabetes from being treated with insulin unnecessarily, but also stop the rare but serious occurrence of people with type 1 being initially treated with tablets inappropriately and running of the risk of severe illness.”
The findings were published in the online journal Diabetes Care.

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