Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In Germany as elsewhere, the number of affected infants and young children is increasing – it is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence. The term type 1 diabetes refers to the form of diabetes in which, already early on, the endogenous insulin production is lost and must be replaced by insulin injections. Approximately 30 in 1000 children have risk genes for type 1 diabetes. The autoimmune disease develops insidiously, which is why type 1 diabetes usually remains undetected for many years until it suddenly manifests itself with often life-threatening symptoms. The initiative “Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes” – abbreviated GPPAD – is seeking to prevent this with the Freder1k Study in Saxony “Early Diagnosis of the Risk for Developing Type 1 Diabetes”.
“Thanks to novel tests developed at Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with the CRTD of TU Dresden, it is now possible to diagnose the risk as well as an early form of type 1 diabetes long before first symptoms appear. The families can prepare for the subsequent disease through training sessions and optimal medical care,” said University Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, director of the Institute of Diabetes Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München.
The Freder1k Study in Saxony is being conducted by TU Dresden and the University of Leipzig in cooperation with Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Hannover Medical School. Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, the Saxon State Minister of Science and the Arts, has assumed the patronage for the Freder1k Study. The U.S. Helmsley Charitable Trust is supporting the initiative as a donor.
“Our vision, however, is more than early diagnosis,” said Professor Ezio Bonifacio, director of the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden of TU Dresden and leader of the study. “Our vision is to develop a therapy with which we can prevent or cure the diabetes-specific autoimmunity, so that the clinical stage of type 1 diabetes never develops at all. The aim is to keep children with an elevated risk for developing type 1 diabetes from ever having to inject insulin during their lives.