A study by researchers from Denmark has identified new markers for type 1 diabetes. The team led by Dr Henrik Mortensen have found that substances called ‘microRNAs’ are present in the blood of people with type 1 but not in the blood of people without type 1.
MicroRNAs or miRNAs are tiny pieces of a substance similar to DNA, called RNA. They are thought to be important for telling cells which genes to switch on and which to switch off, so that cells in different tissues can function correctly.
The team identified a number of different miRNAs that are present in the blood of people with type 1 but not in people without. MiRNAs are easily detectable in blood so they could potentially be used as a predictive marker for the development of type 1 or as a marker to test if new therapies for type 1 are working well.
The study also found that a particular miRNA called miR-25 is associated with good glucose control. MiR-25 was present at high levels in the blood of people with high HbA1c and at low levels in people with low HbA1c. It is possible that this miRNA is involved in maintaining good glucose control and might in the future become a drug target to help control glucose levels.
Maebh Kelly, Research Communication Officer at JDRF said, ‘Identifying substances like miRNAs that are specific for type 1 will help us learn more about the underlying causes of type 1 and may even help us to predict the development of type 1 in the future’