A spit test is being developed that could be used to make diagnosing type 1 diabetes easier in children.
Leading type 1 diabetes charity JDRF has partnered with Enable Biosciences to develop a spit-to-screen scheme which could remove obstacles in diagnosing children with the autoimmune disease.
San Francisco-based biotech start-up Enable Biosciences has already designed a test that recognises antibodies in small samples of blood. These antibodies indicate a heightened risk of type 1 diabetes.
Now, JDRF will grant the start-up $700,000 (£504,000) over two years to develop this technology to work in a spit test. The blood and saliva samples for their research will be collected from Stanford’s Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.
Just over half of cases of type 1 diabetes develop during childhood. Type 1 diabetes tends to develop more quickly in children than in adults and a fast diagnosis is needed to prevent the condition becoming dangerous.
While a variety of biomarker tests exist, Enable noted in a statement that they are too expensive to be widely used to screen for type 1 diabetes.
This spit test could be used to screen thousands of children and identify at-risk children before any symptoms of diabetes develop, such as excessive thirst, increased urination, fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
Moreover, the spit test could be used to advance research into the prevention of type 1 diabetes.
JDRF USA’s Director of Research Jessica Dunne said of the partnership: “JDRF is excited about the potential of the Enable technology to detect autoantibodies in a small amount of saliva or blood.
“Prevention is a vital part of JDRF’s mission to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes, and an assay [test] like this could remove obstacles and serve as a critical step toward being able to screen all kids for risk of type 1 diabetes.”

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