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ENDIA study

The Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity (ENDIA) study is researching the causes of Type 1 Diabetes so that we can find ways to prevent it.

Type 1 Diabetes in children is now twice as common as it was 20 years ago. This is because the environment that we live in has changed and this has made it more likely for a child at risk to develop Type 1 Diabetes.

The aim of ENDIA is to follow 1400 Australian children from pregnancy to early childhood to determine how various environmental factors affect the development of Type 1 Diabetes. If we can understand what factors are harmful or protective and how they interact with our genes, we can focus on environmental factors in our prevention work.

If you are a pregnant woman with Type 1 Diabetes, or your unborn child has a first-degree relative (father or sibling) with Type 1 Diabetes you may be eligible to take part in the ENDIA study. Babies under six-months-old may also be eligible.

To get involved, contact study coordinator Alexandra Tully, Alexandra.tully@health.wa.gov.au 

TrialNet

We know that if you have a blood relative with Type 1 Diabetes you face a greater risk (10 to 15 times) of developing Type 1 Diabetes than those with no family history. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. The body's ability to produce insulin decreases as the immune system progressively destroys beta cells. The immune damage is thought to begin months to years before symptoms of diabetes develop. People at risk of developing diabetes can be identified by testing for antibodies to the beta cells. The presence of antibodies, which are proteins made by the body's immune system, indicate that insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are being damaged.

The goal of this TrialNet study is to test relatives of those with Type 1 Diabetes for antibodies in order to highlight individuals at risk of developing the disease. Those with antibodies are then followed up with further testing so that we can better understand how Type 1 Diabetes is triggered and develops. Those identified with at least two at-risk antibodies are also invited to take part in Type 1 Diabetes prevention trials. Children and adolescents who are screened negative for antibodies are offered annual re-screens for Type 1 Diabetes antibodies until 18 years of age.

This study commenced at Princess Margaret Hospital in 2005 and recruitment is ongoing. For more information, contact Julie.dart@health.wa.gov.au

Biobanks and data repositories

Our biobanks, which store blood, serum and DNA, are an important resource for medical science and research including genetic research. While individual samples are never examined in detail, access to a large number of samples enables us to observe common features which can help us to prevent and treat diabetes and associated co-morbidities.

Data repositories store demographic and clinical information which allows us to observe trends over time or track different clinical factors. Again, while individual details are not examined, having access to information from many people allows us to observe common features which may help improve treatment.

Some of the discoveries we have made using our biobanks and data repositories include:

  • Type 1 Diabetes can be grouped into six different disease sub-types which appear to be associated with particular co-morbidities and genders. This information could help determine which individuals might be vulnerable to a particular co-morbidity, such as hypertension, and target their treatment accordingly.
  • Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes appears to move in a five-year cycle so that rates of diagnosis peak every five years. Scientists are still researching why this cycle occurs.

For general inquiries including collaborations, please contact senior program manager Tanyana Jackiewicz:

Phone: (08) 9340 3322
Fax: (08) 9489 7700
Email: tanyana.jackiewicz@health.wa.gov.au

Postal address

Children's Diabetes Centre
Telethon Kids Institute
PO Box 855
West Perth Western Australia 6872
Australia