Physicians could soon be able to predict if a child is at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes thanks to an early detecting technology that is being developed by RMIT researchers in collaboration with their peers from University of Sydney.
Researchers are hopeful the technology could soon be used as a standard test for detecting the chronic disease for newborns in its earliest stage, enabling the development of treatments to delay or even prevent its onset.
Professor Vipul Bansal, Director of the Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT, said the detection kit combined RMIT’s lab-on-a-chip technologies with University of Sydney’s breakthrough discovery on insulin-producing beta cells to accurately predict the health of beta cells.
“The detection kit we’re developing is cost-effective and simple to use, requiring no specialist technical knowledge or expensive analysis,” Mr Bansal explained.
“Being able to detect this disease well before it has a chance to progress would be life-changing for the 2400 Australians diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes each year.”
The research team has now approached engineers at the Micro Nano Research Facility (MNRF) to refine the technology and miniaturise it onto a microfluidic chip about the size of a postage stamp.
“The prototype we’re building will be able to analyse just a pin-prick of blood from a patient and provide a score that indicates the risk of Type 1 diabetes,” said MNRF Director, Professor Arnan Mitchell.
“The ultimate aim is to be able to slow or prevent the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. The test could also significantly boost the development of therapies to prevent or delay the disease.”
“We know the separate components of the device work, so now the challenge is to bring the sensor and the chip together into one easy-to-use device.”
The research is supported with $1.2 million in funding from The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust, one of the largest medical research-funding philanthropic trusts in the world.
The funding grant is administered by JDRF Australia, the country’s the peak body supporting research into Type 1 Diabetes.