July 12, 2011

Twin Brothers, Tackling Diabetes

Last April, 13-year-old Luke Mitchell had a routine well-child checkup at his pediatrician's office in Nashville. The visit ended up being anything but routine. Instead of hearing that everything was OK and being sent on his way, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The news, which would alter Luke's life forever, was shocking. There was no family history of the disease and his symptoms, increased thirst and urination, had been subtle.

Luke's identical twin brother, Grant, was quickly tested and found not to have the disease – yet – but the boys' doctor was concerned. The next day, the whole family was sent to the Children's Diabetes Program at the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic.

As Luke was instructed on the use of blood sugar tests and insulin injections to manage his disease, Grant was given a unique opportunity: testing to pinpoint his risk for developing the disease and an opportunity to participate in a new wave of research that is yielding some of the most tantalizing evidence in decades for possible prevention of type 1 diabetes.

The whole Mitchell family was offered the chance to participate in the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet; a research network, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that is charged with finding ways to prevent, delay or even reverse the progression of type 1 diabetes. They accepted the offer without hesitation.

Research is critical because the rates of juvenile, or type 1, diabetes are mysteriously rising.

Read the whole story by Carole Bartoo here.