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Statins and ACE inhibitors in adolescents with diabetes

A new study will determine if giving statins and/or ACE inhibitors to adolescents with type 1 diabetes could reduce their risk of developing diabetes-related complications in later life.

Leading health charities Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) are funding the 5-year international study to try and prevent high-risk 11-16-year-olds developing heart and kidney disease.

Type 1 diabetes can reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years, often because of cardiovascular disease affecting the heart and circulatory system, and one-third of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease. Finding new ways to prevent these complications is vital to ensure people with the condition live as long and healthy a life as possible.

Statins and ACE inhibitors have been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease in adults with diabetes, but the Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Intervention Trial, coordinated by Cambridge University, will be the first study of its kind in young people.

Professor David Dunger, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Cambridge, said: "Diabetes significantly increases the risk of heart disease and is the leading cause of endstage kidney failure. By working with high-risk adolescents, this study will help us to find out whether statins and ACE inhibitors can prevent these devastating complications at the earliest stage."

Researchers have started screening adolescents with type 1 diabetes to find 500 with high protein (albumin) levels in their urine, which can indicate higher risk of heart and kidney disease in later life. They also want to identify 400 with lower protein levels who are deemed to be at low or medium risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

The high-risk adolescents will be randomly split into four groups, each of which will receive different treatments and be followed for up to five years. The lower-risk group will not be given any statins or ACE inhibitors, but will be followed for up to four years for comparison. Researchers will keep in touch with all participants for a further 5-10 years to determine the long-term effects of the treatments.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: "Cardiovascular and kidney disease are just two of the devastating complications of type 1 diabetes and it is vital that we look at how to prevent their onset. Careful management of the condition through multiple daily insulin injections and blood tests will keep a person alive, but it can not prevent complications occurring. Until we reach our ultimate goal of finding the cure for type 1 diabetes, we will continue to fund the best research that can offer children and young people a better quality of life."

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, added: "Around 80% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease and one in three people with diabetes will develop kidney disease. Early prevention of these devastating complications is essential to improve long-term health and quality of life. This study should provide conclusive evidence as to whether statins and ACE inhibitors will do just that in high-risk adolescents. The findings could change the lives of countless children and young people in years to come."

Diabetes UK