Sunday, 10 November 2013

CMC-Vellore Research Brings ‘Sweet News’ for Young Diabetics

Here’s some good news for young diabetes patients. A breakthrough study in the diagnosis and treatment of early onset of diabetes by Christian Medical College may soon allow youngsters, who were misdiagnosed to be suffering from type 1 or 2 diabetes, to be taken off insulin. This may come as relief for several young patients suffering from Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), who are unnecessarily taking insulin shots.For India, it means cutting edge research. For a person with diabetes, it could mean a world of change.

Dr. Nihal Thomas, professor and head, department of endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism, CMC, who was part of the research team, said, "Type 1 is caused by the auto immune destruction of beta cells and usually manifests in childhood, while Type 2 diabetes is adult onset and is known to manifest after the age of 35." Doctors are now seeing diabetes in very young people, and while this is usually diagnosed as either Type 1 or 2, it may not be. "A clinician who does not know about Mody could start the patient on insulin when it may not be required," said Dr Thomas.

"For instance, patients may be taking insulin, but if they are found to have Mody 1 and 3, they only need oral tablets and there is no need for insulin. Some patients with Mody 2 may not even need any medical treatment if they learn to manage their diet and exercise," said Dr Thomas.

The doctors at CMC used next generation DNA sequencing technology for the first time in India to study 10 genes that are responsible for different types of Mody in a group of 70 patients, said Dr Thomas. The results were presented two weeks ago at the American Society of Human Genetics Conference in Boston, US, by Aaron Chapla, the primary scientist who set up the laboratory at CMC.

According to medical research, 13 different genes have been reported to cause Mody. "However, in India, prior to this, there have been reports of only two genes studied in a small set of clinically diagnosed patients with Mody," said Dr Thomas, citing high costs and non-availability of genetic diagnostic facilities, coupled with clinician unawareness as reasons.

In the past ten years, various institutions across the country were able to study only two genes that were found to cause MODY. But CMC, using the next generation sequencing technology, studied a panel of 10 such genes simultaneously.

The results of the eight-month study were recently presented at the American Society of Human Genetics conference in Boston, USA, where it was accepted as original work.

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