In part 4 of this Exclusive Interview, Lisa Letourneau talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed about the hurdles of diagnosing monogenic diabetes, treatment of monogenic diabetes outside the US, and getting out the information to help others.
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: Diabetes is a worldwide disease. So, how is monogenic diabetes treated from other countries?
Letourneau: I think one of the major hurdles for most places, including in the US unfortunately, is being able to get the genetic testing done. So, some people will diagnose monogenic diabetes clinically by saying, “They meet all of these clinical criteria. I think they have MODY,” but we really encourage people to get the genetic testing done to be sure. So, even in the US insurance companies aren’t always willing to pay for it. In some other countries like in the UK, they have a really strong — I think it’s from the Welcome Trust that helps fund all of their genetic testings, so they have pretty good access to that. Certainly places like the continent of Africa, we don’t know a whole lot about monogenic diabetes there. We actually have a collaborator that’s from Nigeria, and so we’re trying to work with him on finding cases of atypical diabetes in Africa and just trying to scratch the tip of the iceberg of what could be going on in Africa with monogenic diabetes because it hasn’t been looked at very much.
Freed: What are the biggest negatives in trying to get the information out because it’s fairly new, not very well-known? I’m sure there’s a lot of stumbling blocks as far as getting the information out to the medical community. What are some of those?
Letourneau: Yeah. So, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We deal with a lot of health care providers that we talk to that know a little bit about monogenic diabetes or are very willing to learn, which is great. But then of course there are many others who might not be so knowledgeable or don’t have the resources to be able to learn about it. So, we try our best to be a resource for health care professionals. So, if people have questions, we’re happy to answers those. Like I said, we spend a lot of time over email and phone talking to people. So, just that one-on-one interaction is certainly the major way that we reach out to health care professionals. And the other way is conferences like this, so being able to give talks and present posters is helpful. And then, we’ve been trying to increase our efforts at doing more broad dissemination of our work and our findings. So, something we haven’t done quite yet but are thinking about is like mailing materials to major academic centers in the Midwest and maybe seeing how that goes. And if it’s fruitful and helpful for health care professionals, then we would expand to other areas. So, we also have a website that I think provides information for people pretty readily. But, yeah, it’s definitely a challenge. And it’s rare, so I think a lot of providers think that it might not apply to them or that they don’t have patients in their clinic that have this condition. And we would challenge that by saying, “Maybe you just haven’t found the patients in your clinic that have this condition.” So, it’s definitely a challenge but we’re happy to try and work on it.