The Diabetes Research Center of UZ Brussel and the VUB has received a research grant to the amount of USD 1,199,550 from JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. The grant will support a research project on the continuous monitoring of glucose levels in children and (young) adults, with a moderate to very high risk of developing T1D. The study aims to facilitate early diagnosis of the disease with minimally invasive monitoring, hereby reducing the risk of associated severe acute complications.
T1D is an incurable disease in which the body does not recognise its own beta cells, causing the immune system to attack them and the cells to produce little to no insulin. Consequently, glucose levels cannot be adequately controlled. An estimated 10 to 15% of diabetic patients suffer from T1D. This autoimmune disease affects both children and adults.
JDRF has awarded the research team of the Diabetes Research Center (VUB and UZ Brussel; department head Professor Bart Keymeulen) a research grant of approximately USD1,199,550 dollars for the following project: ‘Continuous monitoring of glycaemic variability to predict dys- and hyperglycaemia in asymptomatic type 1 diabetes’. The research grant is granted for a duration of three years.
Continuous subcutaneous monitoring of glucose levels
With this project, the researchers will map fluctuations in glucose levels and insulin production and action in children and (young) adults (under 40 years) with a moderate to very high risk of T1D. They rely on a state-of-the-art continuous glucose monitoring method with a subcutaneous sensor to determine glucose levels, without additional finger pricks.
Dr. Aster Desouter, FWO PhD candidate: “We want to check, among others, whether increased fluctuations in glucose levels allow us to predict the onset of abnormally high glucose levels and the development of T1D in these populations. This study will help us to learn more about how this disease develops. It also provides an opportunity for monitoring people who are at risk of developing T1D.”
Prof. Bart Keymeulen, head of the UZ Brussel diabetes clinic: “Along with evolutions in the development of diabetes drugs, we want to arrive at a personalised approach to T1D that is tailored to individual patients and their needs.”
This prospective, multicenter study is coordinated by Dr Aster Desouter and Professor Bart Keymeulen, with the support of the Belgian Diabetes Registry and the endocrinologists and paediatricians of UZ Brussel, UZ Gent, UZ Antwerpen and UZ Leuven. The research is being conducted in the framework of Dr Desouter’s PhD, which investigates several minimally invasive methods to predict beta cell loss and the occurrence of abnormal glucose levels in at-risk individuals without T1D symptoms. In 2020, she obtained a temporary mandate from the VUB Research Council, and in 2021 a PhD fellowship for strategic basic research from the FWO.