Doctors in Edinburgh believe a simple blood test they have
introduced could allow some people previously identified as living
with type 1 diabetes to come off insulin.
BBC Scotland has reported the Western General Hospital team say
the test has identified previously unrecognised variants of the
A routine screening program was set up after medics discovered
one patient had a genetic form of diabetes.
They say it has "transformational" results which, for some
people, could mean the end of daily injections.
Traditionally, it had been believed that people with type 1
diabetes do not produce any insulin. That means they need lifelong
monitoring and daily insulin treatments.
More recently, research has suggested there may be more
sub-variations of the condition.
Since introducing the C-peptide blood test in the middle of last
year, several patients have been able to completely come off
insulin, while for others it has meant doctors can tailor
Professor Mark Strachan, (pictured above), a consultant in
diabetes and endocrinology at the Western General Hospital, has now
called for every patient to undergo screening, which costs £6
(A$10.80) a time.
He said: "If we identify that somebody has a genetic type of
diabetes, it can have a transformative effect on their life.
"Also, if we can establish that an individual has another form
of diabetes, such as type 2 diabetes, again there may be
alternative treatments to insulin that we can offer them.
"So I think it is a very important and potentially
Sophie Fleming is a regular visitor to the Western General. She
was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of eight. It meant
insulin injections every day, and multiple blood pricks to monitor
She said: "It was very restrictive and as a small child, there
were birthday parties and birthday cakes. And as soon as you tell
someone they can't have something, they desperately want it.
"On being diagnosed, my mum said I cried every single night for
six weeks: 'Why me?'"
Throughout her teens, despite using an insulin pump, her
diabetes was hard to manage.
But when she was pregnant with her first child, doctors decided
to carry out a blood test. To their amazement they found she had a
rare genetic form of the disease.
It meant doctors were able to stop Sophie's insulin treatment
and manage her diabetes with tablets. Her blood sugar levels are
now the best they have been in her life with diabetes.
Sophie said: "It was just elation, and disbelief. I didn't quite
believe that this would turn out the way they were expecting it
"I actually didn't take my pump off for a couple of days after
cutting down on insulin, and even then I kept it beside my bed for
a good six weeks, programmed ready to plug back in and ready to go
"Because after 27 years, I just didn't think I'd be on anything
Diabetes Queensland will keep members up to date on any
developments in this treatment in Australia.