Research into A-T and diabetes - we need your help

Publication date: 24 January 2017

As there are only a limited number of people potentially suitable for this study, it is important that anyone who is eligible thinks about participating.  

To be eligible to participate you must:

  • have A-T (classic or mild variant)
  • be non-diabetic
  • be white European
  • not use steroids regularly
  • be aged 18-60

 If you think you can help then please do contact us for more details. 

 About the study:

The research is led by Professor Ewan Pearson and Dr Laura McCreight, both diabetes experts, with an interest in genetics and the ATM protein.

The study will recruit two groups of people - those with A-T and those without.  If you take part, you can invite a friend or relative (as long as they do not have A-T or carry the gene) to take part with you. We need to recruit 15 people with A-T, and 15 people without A-T. 

The study will last for a total of 17 weeks, and involves three visits to the Clinical Research Centre Dundee, each lasting 1.5 days (accommodation is in a nearby hotel). The CRC has free wi-fi, and television for entertainment during the study visits. All travel will be arranged and paid for by the research team for you and any family members or carers you would like to bring.

Participating in the study will require you to take two different diabetes medications – first metformin, followed by pioglitazone. Both these medications are safe for use in non-diabetic people. The research investigations will include blood, urine and fat samples, and an MRI.

The aim of the study is to see how people with A-T respond to these two drugs, to demonstrate which drug would be better for treating diabetes in A-T. The study will give a lot of information about why people with A-T get diabetes and what sort of diabetes this is. It may also shed some light on the role of ATM (the gene responsible for A-T) in our metabolism, and improve our understanding of how AT affects people.

 Why this research is important:

As you may know, one of the problems associated with A-T is problems with the immune system, leading to recurrent infection – often chest infections – which can lead to problems such as bronchiectasis. If an individual has diabetes which has not been diagnosed, or is poorly controlled, this would increase the risk and severity of any infection the individual might have.

Recently we have become aware that many people with AT develop a “fatty liver” (meaning there is fat deposited in the liver where there shouldn’t be any). This can also affect how the individual will respond to an infection and may give rise to other problems. The research team hope to investigate the link between A-T diabetes and fatty liver, and work out how best to treat these conditions, to improve the health and quality of life of people with A-T.

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