To pursue this goal, the Hagopian Lab joins six other laboratories worldwide in the 20-year-long TEDDY Study, “The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young.” This groundbreaking collaboration follows 8,000 children under the age of 15, who have high genetic risk for T1D.
A new method has already come out of this research, which enables scientists to better predict which babies will go on to develop T1D. This approach employs a combined-risk score factoring in genetics, family history, and presence of certain biological indicators, known as biomarkers, that indicate susceptibility to T1D. Putting the technique into practice, researchers saw dramatically improved efficiency in screening newborns.
“Gathering genetic information together allows the test to perform better. Parents can be warned to watch for early symptoms to avoid hospitalization for life-threatening complications,” says Dr. Hagopian.
Beyond the TEDDY study, Dr. Hagopian and his fellow scientists are researching factors like environmental or food exposures, and whether avoiding them early in life could have a positive impact on health outcomes. Improving methods of prediction and considering multiple aspects of how the disease manifests are key to more readily identifying the circumstances that lead to development of T1D.