Two week-old Arthur from Dresden was the 100.000th baby screened.
Two week-old Arthur from Dresden was the 100.000th baby screened.
In 2015 the global platform for the prevention of autoimmune diabetes (GPPAD) was launched. The platform offers an infrastructure for trials looking to identify infants with an elevated genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In November 2017, trials were initiated in 5 European countries (Germany, Belgium, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Recently, the 100,000th infant, two-week old Arthur from Dresden, was successfully screened.   

1 chance in 10

In Belgium, the team of  prof. dr. Kristina Casteels, paediatric endocrinologist in the University Hospitals Leuven, aims to trace babies of up to three months with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. In the so-called Freder1k trial, one drop of blood is enough to determine whether a child has an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes later. Professor Casteels, the leader of the Belgian trial, says: “A child like that has 1 chance in 10 of developing the disease. The normal risk is 1 in 250.” In the meantime, infants can also be screened in 9 other Belgian centres.

The aim of the trial is to screen 300.000 children by 2022. “And we’re making good progress with the 100,000th screening”, professor Casteels says. “What’s more, it shows that families are aware of the gravity of the disease and wish to know the risk for their children." Out of the 100,000 babies 1,500 were screened in the University Hospitals Leuven.  

Oral insulin

If a child turns out to have an increased risk, parent can choose to participate in a second trial that was recently started. The POInT trial is aimed at the prevention of type 1 diabetes. The babies are administered small amounts of oral insulin powder to ‘educate’ their immune system, so that it won’t fight insulin and insulin-producing cells.

Professor Casteels concludes: “Ultimately we hope to be able to actually treat children with an increased risk. But even without that, this trial is already a big step forward in our vision of a world without type 1 diabetes. Early detection of an increased risk means we can provide the right recommendation and the best medical care in the trial centres.”. 

More info
•    Diabetes centre University Hospitals Leuven
•    About type 1 diabetes
•    About GPPAD
•    About Freder1k
•    About POInT


Het team van professor Casteels viert de honderdduizendste screening.
Professor Casteel's team celebrating the 100,000th screening.