The Fr1da study is being led by Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the DZD, and is supported by numerous partners and sponsors*.
“The number of people with diabetes in Germany continues to rise dramatically. However, it is often neglected to mention that the number of people with type 1 diabetes is steadily increasing,” said Rüdiger Landgraf, curator and longtime member of the board of the German Diabetes Foundation (DDS). “We definitely need screening programs to provide optimal treatment as early as possible. The DDS supports the Fr1da project because we are convinced that the scientific approaches are well founded and will thus result in improved care for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and their family members.”
Type 1 diabetes can be predicted by means of a simple blood test
Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease of childhood and adolescence. Throughout Germany, 30,000 children and young people under 19 years of age have type 1 diabetes, and more than 2000 new cases are reported each year. Frequently the disease is not diagnosed until blood glucose levels reach dangerous levels and present a life-threatening emergency. For those affected, the diagnosis means a drastic change in their daily lives due to the complex therapy, and for many families this can be stressful and traumatic.
As scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown, antibodies for type 1 diabetes can be detected in the blood months or even years before onset of the disease. This enables an early diagnosis even before the symptoms become manifest. The Fr1da study seeks to utilize this possibility of early detection: By means of a simple blood test for children between two and five years old, affected children can be diagnosed at an early stage.
The young patients and their families will receive comprehensive medical assistance as well as training opportunities near to where they live, so that they can learn how to cope with the disease in everyday life and prevent complications early on.
Successful test phase – Study launched in more than 200 pediatric practices
Following a successful test phase with ten selected pediatric practices, the screening program started across Bavaria on January 1st 2015. “We are very pleased that more than 200 pediatric practices have agreed to participate in the study. Our goal is to make the screening examination accessible to all children in Bavaria,” said study leader Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler of Helmholtz Zentrum München and of Technische Universität München. Prior to launching the study, Fr1da was presented at medical conferences on several occasions, including the conference “Pädiatrie zum Anfassen” (Hands-on Pediatrics) for pediatricians in Bamberg, and the study always received a positive reception from the experts. Furthermore, numerous training centers have been found for the project, which seek to contribute to designing care strategies for the affected families and to establish special training modules for the prediabetes condition.
Günther Wess, scientific director of Helmholtz Zentrum München, stressed the scientific and medical significance of the Fr1da Study: “Prevention is one of the most important pillars of modern health research, and the Fr1da-study will mark a milestone with regard to type 1 diabetes. The immense national and international interest in this study reflects its global significance. We are delighted with the wide range of support, for example through the JDRF and DDS foundations and the Bavarian pediatricians and pharmacists.”
Further scientific objectives of the Fr1da Study are research into the causes of type 1 diabetes and the further development of interventional prevention studies.
* The Fr1da Study is being conducted by Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with Technische Universität München, the Professional Association of Pediatricians (Bavarian branch) and the Bavarian Pediatric network (PaedNetz Bayern) as well as the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority and the Bavarian State Ministry of Public Health and Care Services. Supporters are the German Diabetes Foundation, the U.S.-based organization for diabetes research (JDRF), the Bavarian Association of Company Health Insurance Funds and the Bavarian Pharmacists’ Association. Melanie Huml, member of the Bavarian Parliament and Bavaria’s Minister of Public Health and Care Services, has assumed patronage of the project. The ambassador for the Fr1da Study is the well-known Bavarian music duo for children Sternschnuppe (shooting star) with Margit Sarholz and Werner Meier.
Fr1da-Studie: Test Run for a National Screening, Article of Deutsches Ärzteblatt (German Medical Journal) on the Fr1da study, in: Perspektiven der Diabetologie, October 2014 (German only)
Website of the Fr1da-Study: Detailed information for participants and physicians on the objectives and procedure of the screening (German only)