A baby from Milton Keynes at high risk of type 1 diabetes is taking part in a study to test insulin powder as a preventative measure against the condition.
Genetic tests have indicated that little Ava Phippard has a 10% greater risk of getting the condition because her five-year-old sister Amelia was diagnosed aged two.
In a bid to reduce her chances of developing type 1 diabetes, the five-month-old’s parents have enrolled her into an international study involving taking insulin powder daily until she is three.
The idea is that the powder could encourage the immune system to tolerate the insulin produced naturally.
Mum Chloe Phippard, 24, said she hoped taking part in the research could help give the youngster a “chance at living a normal life” in the face of an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
News of older sister Amelia’s type 1 diabetes came out of the blue as there was no family history of the condition.
Chloe told the BBC: “I cried when I found out about the risk because I knew what Amelia had gone through and I didn’t want Ava to go through that as well.”
Amelia wears an insulin pump, her mum added. “She’s never going to live a life without diabetes and it’s all she’s ever known.”
Ava is taking part in the Primary Oral Insulin Trial, which is aiming to recruit 100 babies across Milton Keynes as well as Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. They will be spilt into two groups, with some participants given the insulin powder and others a placebo. This will continue until they are three and all of the babies will be monitored over the course of six years.
The University of Oxford is leading the UK arm of the study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research.
Explaining the study, the researchers said: “The aim of POInT (Primary Oral Insulin Trial) is to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes in children with a high risk of type 1 diabetes through the daily administration of oral insulin powder.
“In the first years of life, the immune system of children is particularly susceptible to new stimuli. The daily administration of insulin powder along with a meal should tell the immune system that insulin is not a structure that it must fight.”