Gene expression signature that predicts progression of type 1 diabetes

Researchers have identified a gene expression signature that can predict the progression of type 1 diabetes.

The study aimed to identify transcriptional changes associated with disease progression in patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes.

The researchers analyzed blood samples collected as part of the global INNODIA partnership.  A certain gene expression signature was found to be associated with rapid disease progression.

“One benefit of such predictive signature would be the ability to intervene earlier in the disease process. This could help slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent or delay the onset of symptoms. Another benefit would be improved monitoring of the disease progression, which would allow for more personalized treatment plans and better outcomes for patients”, the authors explain.

Type 1 diabetes is a complex autoimmune disease where insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed. Disease progression varies between individuals and currently there is no way to predict individual outcomes.

The authors found that genes and pathways related to innate immunity were downregulated during the first year after diagnosis. Significant associations of the gene expression changes were found with ZnT8A autoantibody positivity.

Rate of change in the expression of 16 genes between baseline and 12 months was found to predict the decline in C-peptide at 24 months. Interestingly and consistent with earlier reports, increased B cell levels and decreased neutrophil levels were associated with the rapid progression.

INNODIA is a global partnership between 31 academic institutions, six industrial partners, a small sized enterprise, and two patient organizations. Their common goal is to fight type 1 diabetes. 

INNODIA examines samples and data from newly diagnosed patients with type 1 diabetes and unaffected first degree relatives throughout Europe. The project runs under the framework of the European Union´s Innovative Medicines Initiative – Joint Undertaking (IMI-JU) with a dedicated governance. 

“Importantly, INNODIA is closely guided by the patients themselves, through the Patient Advisory Committee, consisting of a group of type 1 diabetes patients and parents. They give continuous feedback on the concept of INNODIA and development of protocols, and are crucial in disseminating the goals of the project to the public” the author tells.