Chipping away at Type 1 diabetes
How new technology may help your child
I’m always on the lookout for the latest news about developments in my field. In fact, I sometimes learn about the most up-to-date information by searching the news before I read about them in a medical journal.
A new diabetes technology under development caught my attention. The innovative technology developed at Stanford University uses a microchip for detection of type 1 diabetes. A small sample of blood is placed on the microchip. The testing procedure detects auto-antibodies commonly found in those with Type 1 diabetes. The hope is that this new device can rapidly identify children who are at a high risk for developing Type 1 diabetes.
Illness symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, sometimes severe, are almost uniformly present at the time of diagnosis. It is frustrating both to me and parents that no easy screening is available to detect Type 1 diabetes earlier in its course when there are more possibilities of intervention. This new technology excites me as a way to overcome this barrier and expands intervention research opportunities in those in the early phase of type 1 diabetes.
Screening for Type 1 diabetes is only currently done in large research studies such as the Trialnet Pathway to Prevention Study and only in children who have a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes. It is possible that this new microchip will allow for wider, faster screening. The promise of an inexpensive, rapid test may help the growing number of children in countries with limited resources receive a prompt diagnosis and proper care for their Type 1 diabetes.
The incidence of Type 1 diabetes continues to rise worldwide, and those of us in pediatric endocrine and other medical fields continue in efforts to better understand this mysterious condition. I believe a cure will come one day, but in the meantime, technology tools such as this microchip will form the new wave of innovation in Type 1 diabetes.
As a self-described ‘techie,’ Joel Steelman, M.D., has a keen interest in the wise use of technology to improve medical care. Since 2001, he has helped implement electronic medical recordkeeping in two endocrine practices.