New technology for early detection of Type
1 diabetes is being developed by researchers. This technology will be able to
accurately predict if a child is at risk of the chronic disease.
Around 542,000 children all over the world
are affected with the Type 1 diabetes. An increasing number of adults are also
being diagnosed with this lifelong autoimmune disorder. No early tests are
available for this type of diabetes so by the time a diagnosis is made; about
70% of the critical insulin-producing cells have been destroyed.
According to the report
released by the RMIT University, the technology being developed by RMIT
scientists and engineers uses a microchip and sensor to detect markers in the
blood that can identify the early loss of beta cells.
Researchers from the RMIT University
and the University of
Sydney are collaborating on the detection kit that can one day be
used as a standard test for newborns. Early detection allows for treatments to
be developed, thereby delaying or preventing its onset.
Director of the Ian
Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT, Professor Vipul Bansal said,
“Being able to detect this disease well before it has a chance to progress
would be life-changing for the 2400 Australians diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes
He added, “The detection kit we’re
developing is cost-effective and simple to use, requiring no specialist
technical knowledge or expensive analysis.”
There are about 20 biomarkers in the blood
that can accurately predict the health of beta cells. This was previously
discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Sydney, which was led
by Associate Professor Anand Hardikar.
Found in the pancreas, beta cells are the
body’s only way of making insulin. Unfortunately, people suffering from Type 1
diabetes cannot produce this sugar-regulating hormone.
Building on that breakthrough, the aim of this
collaboration is to develop a point-of-care device that would test for these
biomarkers and produce results within minutes.
Scientists at RMIT’s Ian Potter
NanoBiosensing Facility have already developed a proof-of-concept sensor coated
with special nanoparticles, which can reliably detect the presence of select
biomarkers. If a particular molecule is present in the blood, a change in
colour would occur.
Nano Research Facility (MNRF) engineers will
help with expanding the sensor’s capabilities and miniaturise it onto a
microfluidic chip about the size of a postage stamp.
MNRF Director Professor Arnan Mitchell said
that the final result would be a simple and reliable tool for health
He shared, “The prototype we’re building
will be able to analyse just a pin-prick of blood from a patient and provide a
score that indicates the risk of Type 1 diabetes.”
He explained, “The ultimate aim is to be
able to slow or prevent the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. The test could also significantly
boost the development of therapies to prevent or delay the disease.”
He added, “We know the separate components
of the device work, so now the challenge is to bring the sensor and the chip
together into one easy-to-use device.”
Over A$ 1.2 million in funding grant from
The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust is supporting the research. The
funding grant is administered by JDRF Australia, the nation’s peak body
supporting research into Type 1 Diabetes.