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Lisa Letourneau Part 1, Monogenic Diabetes

In part 1 of this Exclusive Interview, Lisa Letourneau talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed about what monogenic diabetes is, and distinguishing monogenic diabetes from other types of diabetes.

Lisa Letourneau MPH, RD, LDN, is a dietitian and diabetes & genetics clinical research manager at the University of Chicago.


Transcript of this video segment:

Freed: This is Steve Freed. We’re here at the American Diabetes Association, 78th Scientific Sessions, here in Orlando. And there’s at least 20,000 people here, all about diabetes. And today, we have one of those 20,000 people, who’s very interesting and has an interesting type of job that she does as research. So, maybe we can start out with and you can just us a little bit about yourself.  

Letourneau: Sure. My name is Lisa Letourneau. I am a dietitian by training but primarily a diabetes researcher nowadays. I work at the University of Chicago. I’m the Diabetes and Genetics Clinic Research Manager there. And my day-to-day job is basically overseeing and managing all of our studies related to kind of how genetics and diabetes are related to each other.

Freed: But you’re involved with monogenic diabetes.

Letourneau: Yes.

Freed: And I think today if we could, number one, define what monogenic diabetes is, because I think most medical professionals, they know about type 1, they know about type 2 but monogenic is something new. And maybe you can just tell us, number one, what is monogenic diabetes.

Letourneau: Sure.

Freed: And what can the medical professional do to help diagnose monogenic diabetes, because right now it’s either going to be one or two. And if you’re monogenic, you’re somehow going to fall into one of those.

Letourneau: Right.

Freed: And we know that with treatments, it’s more specific and there’s better things you can do if you’re diagnosed with monogenic. So, why don’t we start out with it and just tell us what is monogenic and then what is the best way to diagnose it. If a patient comes into your office and their blood sugar is elevated, you don’t immediately have to put them on insulin.

Letourneau: Sure, yeah. So, I think the best way to think about monogenic diabetes is just starting by kind of breaking down the words. So, mono meaning single and then genic having something to do with genes. So, basically it’s where you have a single gene mutation or abnormality in some gene that’s important for either beta cell function or glucose regulation. And that single mutation is enough to cause someone to have hyperglycemia. So, it’s kind of different than type 1 or type 2 which are polygenic diseases. So, although type 1 and type 2 both have a genetic component, it’s not just a single gene mutation that causes those conditions. It’s kind of having multiple genetic risk factors that together give you an increased risk to develop those sorts of things.

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