At Baptist Medical Group- The Endocrine Clinic, Dr. Ana Karabell, a pediatric endocrinologist, and the research team have a clear goal: To find a cure for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) or at least a way to delay its onset.
Dr. Karabell is the principal investigator in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research study involving a simple blood test that can detect a person’s risk of developing T1D years before symptoms appear. This “Pathway to Prevention” screening, conducted every year in more than 200 locations worldwide, is the first step in the TrialNet prevention study.
TrialNet was established in response to the Surgeon General’s Report “Healthy People 2000.” Baptist Medical Group-The Endocrine Clinic is affiliated with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of 25 T1D TrialNet International Clinical Centers at the forefront of T1D research. This is the first NIH study involving the Baptist Medical Group-The Endocrine Clinic.
The unique screening not only can identify the early stages of diabetes, it also helps researchers learn more about how the disease develops and plan new studies exploring ways to prevent it.
The blood test is offered free and voluntarily to relatives of diabetics to evaluate their personal risk for the disease.
“This study is so important for many reasons,” said Dr. Karabell. “T1D starts with a genetic predisposition—gene(s) that put you at higher risk. This disease can strike anyone. T1D is not caused by overeating, obesity or a sedentary life. Relatives have different reasons for participating in this study. Some want to help researchers understand this disease, while others would like to know their risk of developing diabetes in the future.”
Dr. Karabell says of those screened, less than 5 percent will be positive. If a participant does test positive, Dr. Karabell contacts them personally and arranges a re-screening to confirm the results.
Participants are playing a valuable role in the fight against diabetes. “This research directly benefits the community,” said Dr. Karabell. “Our ultimate goal is to detect T1D in its earliest stage and slow down or stop disease progression. In addition, TrialNet will stay in touch with participants in the future update them on treatment advancements.”
T1D is a disease of the immune system. In people who have it, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy insulin-producing cells and destroys them. There are three distinct phases. The first two stages can be identified by TrialNet screening prior to symptoms. Risk for people in the general population is about 1 in 300, while those with family members with T1D have a 1 in 20 risk.
For Dr. Karabell, the fight against T1D literally keeps her on the move. She urges everyone to attend the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Shelby Farms in Memphis. The race is the organization’s major fundraiser. To register, visit www.walk.jdrf.org.
Screening is available at The Endocrine Clinic, 5659 Rex Road in Memphis, for those who are:
- Between the ages of 1 and 45 and have a parent, brother/sister, or child with T1D
- Between the ages of 1 and 20 and have an aunt/uncle, cousin, grandparent, niece/nephew, or half-brother/sister with T1D
- Have not been diagnosed with diabetes
To arrange a screening, call 901-763-3636 extension 1204/1201. Participants do not have to reside in Memphis or the Mid-South, and there is no charge.
For more information, please visit: https://www.trialnet.org/