Scientists who performed the largest-ever genetic study of a puzzling type of adult-onset diabetes have uncovered new connections to the two major types of diabetes, offering intriguing insights into more accurate diagnosis and better treatment.
Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), which is informally called “type 1.5 diabetes,” is a relatively common disorder that shares features of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
LADA is commonly misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes, as it presents in adulthood but doesn’t initially require insulin treatment.
New research reveals details of the underlying genetic influences in LADA, while leaving open many questions about how to classify the disorder.
“This study lends support to the idea that LADA is a hybrid of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but doesn’t settle the question of the best way to precisely define the disorder,” said co-first author Dr. Diana L. Cousminer in a press release, “Correctly characterizing LADA is important, because it may determine whether a patient receives the most appropriate treatment.”
The new research, which is the first genome-wide association study of LADA, represents a large international effort from nine countries.
The study, along with analysis in 2017, found the strongest genetic signals in LADA were associated with type 1 diabetes, the autoimmune form of diabetes that usually presents in childhood and requires treatment with insulin.
The current analysis also found genetic signals linked to type 2 diabetes, the metabolic type of diabetes, more typically appearing first in adults, and by far the most common type of diabetes.