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Programme to raise awareness of rare forms of diabetes launched

The Oxford AHSN Diabetes Clinical Network has launched a programme to educate health professionals about rare forms of diabetes and the importance of testing for them. The team of doctors and diabetes specialist nurses are running a series of education events. The training programme builds on research funded by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Diabetes is one of the greatest health problems facing the world in the 21st century. In the UK alone, nearly 4 million people currently have diabetes with approximately 10% being Type 1 and 90% Type 2 diabetes. Alongside these well-known forms, recent work has shown that up to 5% of cases are due to specific changes in genes (monogenic diabetes). Each type of diabetes requires different treatment but the overlap between the clinical features of the different types can make accurate diagnosis difficult.

The education programme will help people get accurate diagnosis of their diabetes. The low referral rate for genetic testing in the Oxford AHSN area means that only about 25% of the expected number of patients with monogenic diabetes have been diagnosed, and in the vast majority of cases this is through the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Katharine Owen, Oxford AHSN Diabetes Network Clinical Lead, said: “Increasing the uptake of testing for rare forms of diabetes is very important because it has important effects on treatment. Some patients are able to stop insulin injections and take a tablet or need no treatment instead. We are particularly interested in getting the testing performed at diagnosis of diabetes so that people get on the right treatment from the word go.”