Published on 12 June 2020
Film produced based on DRWF-funded My Diabetes study by Dr Shivani Misra.

A new animated short film has been produced to discuss the importance of diabetes classification.

The video details the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, in addition to MODY (maturity onset diabetes of the young).

The importance of diabetes classification and the risk of being misdiagnosed are discussed – particularly among young people with diabetes and people from black and minority ethnic groups (BAME).

The film is based on the DRWF-funded MY DIABETES study by Dr Shivani Misra, Consultant in Metabolic Medicine and Honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College London.

Dr Misra said: “Do you see a BAME person with diabetes and think it must be type 2 diabetes? Think again! We co-designed this animation with black and Asian people with diabetes, highlighting misconceptions and some of my preliminary research.”

Watch the film here.

Dr Misra was recently appointed to the DRWF Board of Trustees and set up the MY DIABETES study in 2013, with recruitment support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

The study focuses on classifying types of diabetes in people with young-onset diabetes from different ethnic groups, to investigate the question of ethnicity’s impact on diabetes presentation and type.

One of the people with diabetes, whose story is shared in the film, was recruited to the MY DIABETES study by Dr Misra.

Headshot of Dr Shivani Misra
Dr Shivani Misra

Dr Misra said: “I’m delighted we were able to publish these data. It’s been fantastic for the family involved (recruited to the MY DIABETES study) as, in some members, after more than 10 years of being on insulin injections for an incorrect diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, we’ve been able to stop insulin and start a tablet instead.

“As a diabetes researcher and doctor, I’m very happy that the study has led to some positive outcomes for individuals with diabetes.”

MODY is a genetic form of diabetes that is treated differently to type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

This can develop in people who have mutations in a gene called HNF1A.

While recognising these cases can be a challenge for healthcare professionals, it is critical so that the person being diagnosed can be treated precisely for their specific diabetes type.

For example, someone misclassified could potentially stop taking insulin and be prescribed alternative medications.

Researchers previously believed that HNF1A mutations affected just one copy of the gene not both. However, the latest studies by Dr Misra have found that a family could carry mutations in both copies of the HNF1A gene and have typical features of HNF1A mutations that cause diabetes.

Dr Misra’s research found that this particular mutation is mild when one gene is affected and may not cause diabetes but if both copies of the gene are affected, the individual develops young onset HNF1A-type diabetes.

These findings have been highlighted as really important for any clinician working in the field of diabetes to know.

As more and more people are studied to detect genetic forms of diabetes they may encounter unusual genetic variants that may initially be dismissed as mild but if inherited in a certain way, could lead to the development of diabetes.

Dr Misra studied the mutation in Professor Anna Gloyn’s laboratory in University of Oxford, during her PhD.

MODY graphic design

The DRWF-funded study has since recruited more than 1,600 people from different ethnic groups with young-onset diabetes, at various sites around England.

Dr Misra said: “I was awarded a Sutherland-Earl Clinical Research Fellowship from DRWF to undertake a PhD looking for genetic forms of diabetes (MODY, or maturity onset diabetes of the young) in people from different ethnic groups. That initial funding was critical. Using it, I was able to take time out from my clinical job and, with support, set up a multi-centre study recruiting all over the country. I am now getting novel and exciting results that are impactful for people with diabetes, so it is pleasing to see those initial ideas coming to fruition.

“The DRWF funding also gave me time to think about research avenues I wish to pursue and allowed my academic career to flourish. I have had so many positive experiences and interactions because of it. Being a clinical academic is challenging at times, but I love what I do. I am so grateful to the DRWF for giving me that initial chance. I now have an exciting area in diabetes research to pursue, none of which would have been possible without their support.”

Read more at Imperial College London on MODY
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