Vandy hospital part of pioneering diabetes study - WSMV Channel 4

Vandy hospital part of pioneering diabetes study

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Called the "silent killer," diabetes is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 25 million Americans are affected by diabetes, and now Vanderbilt University Medical Center is part of a cutting-edge study that could help halt the progression of Type 1 diabetes.

When Chris Walker signed his 10-year-old son up for TrialNet last year, he struggled with the decision.

"It wasn't easy, but you know the old saying, 'Knowledge is power,'" Walker said.

Vanderbilt is one of only 14 sites in the world participating in the program targeting not Type 1 diabetics but their loved ones.

"If a parent has Type 1 diabetes and has a child that's not affected yet, that child's at higher risk," said pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Daniel Moore.

Walker, a diabetic himself, learned his son William doesn't have the disease but does carry the markers.

"From the standpoint of me having diabetes and understanding diabetes, we just kind of looked at it and kind of felt like it was the right thing to do," Walker said.

The trial is done in three phases, starting with a blood screening. Doctors measure the number of markers - or auto-antibodies - in a patient's blood. The higher the number, the greater the likelihood they'll develop diabetes down the road.

William has five out five markers.

"If you have two antibodies, you have about a 50 percent chance of getting diabetes in the next five years and probably close to 100 percent in the next 10 years. And if you have three or four, your risks increase close to 90 or 100 percent," Moore said.

Anyone with at least one marker is then able to move onto the next phase of the trial: monitoring.

As the risk for the disease progresses, patients move on to the final phase: prevention, where they are treated with a series of drugs to hopefully stall the progression of the disease.

"Now we know what we're working with, so at least we have the information and we can be more proactive as opposed to reactive," Walker said.

Vanderbilt is still accepting new patients for the trial. If you have Type 1 diabetes and have a loved one interested in participating, call 888-884-8638.

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