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NIH Funds First Network to Study Rare Forms of Diabetes


The National Insistutes of Health (NIH) study aims to discover new forms of diabetes, understand what makes them unique, and identify root causes.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it will fund the first nationwide network to study rare forms of diabetes. Specifically, the study aims to discover new forms of diabetes, understand what makes them unique, and identify root causes.

The Rare and Atypical Diabetes Network, or RADIANT, will fund research efforts at 20 US institutions and plans to screen around 2000 individuals with unknown or atypical forms of diabetes that do not fit characteristic features of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Some types of atypical diabetes include monogenic diabetes, mitochondrial and ketosis-prone diabetes, and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, according to Michigan Medicine. Currently, patients throughout the country are seen with these diseases, albeit in a random manner, making it difficult for providers and patients to learn from and compare each case.

“A person with atypical diabetes may be diagnosed and treated for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but not have a history or signs consistent with their diagnosis,” the NIH statement read, while a person with atypical diabetes may also exhibit different responses to standard diabetes treatment.

The University of Michigan, Columbia University, Geisinger Health System, and NorthShore University Health System are among the 20 sites participating in the network.

Enrollees in RADIANT will assist researchers in building a comprehensive resource of genetic, clinical, and descriptive data on previously unidentified forms of diabetes. By using this data, researchers hope to develop methods, or the most efficient and accurate tests, to identify patients with atypical diabetes.

Data will be collected via questionnaires, physical exams, genetic sequencing, blood samples, and other tests. Family members of patients with atypical diabetes may also be invited to participate in the study.

“It’s extremely frustrating for people with atypical diabetes when their diabetes seems so different and difficult to manage,” said Christine Lee, MD, of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which will support RADIANT. “We want to help patients and the broader healthcare community by finding and studying new types of diabetes to shed light on how and why diabetes can vary so greatly.”

The University of South Florida will serve as the study’s coordination center and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, will be the main genomic sequencing centers for the project.

The information collected “could help to establish new diagnostic criteria for diabetes, find new markers for screening, or identify drug targets for new therapies that could ultimately bring precision medicine to diabetes,” said Jeffrey Krischer, PhD, director of the Health Informatics Institute at the University of South Florida.

Recruitment to RADIANT opened on September 30, 2020.

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