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Multimillion pound study to find the cause of type 1 diabetes

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has awarded more than £3m to fund a research centre that will investigate the causes of type 1 diabetes.

The study, known as the JDRF Centre for Diabetes Genes, Autoimmunity and Prevention (D-GAP), aims to understand how and why type 1 diabetes occurs, knowledge that may help develop future therapies with the aim of preventing the condition.

D-GAP will bring together some of the UK's leading type 1 diabetes researchers and over the next five years they will be focused on trying to unravel the connection between genes, immunity and type 1 diabetes.

Recent research has shown that the genetic profile of an individual determines whether they are at greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes, and that the genes identified operate within the immune system. The next key stage in type 1 diabetes research is to make the link between those genes and the immune alterations. By coming together to create D-GAP, the researchers hope to speed up this process.

Researchers, led by Professor David Dunger at the University of Cambridge, will take genetic samples, via a simple blood or saliva test, from 4,000 volunteers across the UK made up of those who have type 1 diabetes, their relatives, and those from the general population. Once all the data is collected, researchers will begin a series of measurements on white blood cells. If a link between these measurements and the genes can be achieved, it will inform understanding of the disease process and pave the way for developments in the arena of drugs and therapies.