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Carla Greenbaum Part 4, Detecting Type 1 Diabetes Through Genes

In part 4 of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. Carla Greenbaum talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California about the benefits of gene therapy and early detection even without a therapy yet in place.

Carla Greenbaum, MD is Director of the Diabetes Research Program at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason in Seattle, WA.

Transcript of this video segment:

Steve Freed: What about gene therapy? Are we at a point where we can look at a person’s genes at birth or at a year old and say you’re at risk for type 1? Have we reached that point?

Carla Greenbaum: We have the ability to screen and identify people who are going to get diabetes for sure. We can do that. That’s the fruits of worldwide research for the past 3 decades or so. We don’t yet do it as a public health measure because we don’t yet have a therapy. But when I talk to people who talk to me and say “well how are we going to find the people?” you know we screen every baby at birth for a whole variety of things with a heel stick. You can do the same thing here. I’m absolutely confident that we can institute screening people and really prevent this disease once we have the therapy.

Steve Freed: So, because we don’t have a therapy, what’s the sense is what you’re saying?

Carla Greenbaum: Well, I think there is a sense. Let me say one other thing though. We know, so in diabetes trial net we screen relatives, because a relative has a 15 times increased risk of getting diabetes than someone in the general population. So, we need to screen thousands of relatives to find enough people who will develop the disease. Even if they choose or are not eligible to be in a trial to see if we can slow or delay the onset of disease, we know that closely monitoring will prevent DKA. So, somebody has an antibody, we monitor them every 6 months and we will find glucose abnormalities long before they have any symptoms and that would be a huge benefit. So, just being in monitoring alone is very important.

Steve Freed: But we’re not doing that at birth, are we?

Carla Greenbaum: There are studies which follow at birth and again trial net is following people once they are 1 year old. It’s not a public health. It’s not clinical use yet. It’s really only as part of a research study. But you know the American Diabetes Association, actually clinical practice guidelines, do recommend that people be referred to be screened and tested in the research studies.

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