Research Subjects Needed for New Study on the Genetic Determinants of T1D Onset

Why do some people get type 1 diabetes (T1D) early in life while others develop it later on in life? Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center endocrinologists Utpal Pajvani and Robin Goland seek to answer this question in a new study.

Drs. Pajvani and Goland are looking for patients who were diagnosed early on in life (younger than 5 years of age) to compare to people who developed T1D later in life (older than age 30). To participate, patients do not have to be less than age 5 at the present time.

The study is quick and simple. Participants will be asked to spit in a cup. Says Dr. Pajvani, “From the saliva we can get enough cells to extract a patient’s DNA, which we would look at for one nucleotide that differentiates low and high Notch function— which we have found to track with differences in beta cell number.”

Our hypothesis, says Dr. Pajvani, is that people who develop T1D later in life were born with more beta cells than people who develop it earlier in life. The implications of the study could include insight into not only if someone will develop diabetes, but when they might develop it. Eventually, says Dr. Pajvani, the goal is to develop an algorithm to predict when someone might get the disease. This may be the first study looking for genetic determinants of T1D onset. Depending on the results, it will not be the last.

For more information, or to register for this study, please contact Elizabeth Robinson, research assistant, at er2926@cumc.columbia.edu.