Scotland has begun rolling out a test for Type 1 diabetes patients which could see some patients no longer having a requirement to take insulin. The function of the test is to show how much insulin a patient’s body is producing itself. The C-peptide blood test will be offered to patients who have had a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis for more at least three years. NHS Lothian has carried out a trial of the test with diabetes patients, allowing some to either reduce or stop taking insulin based on the results.
C-peptide is made in the body at the same time as insulin. By testing levels of C-peptide, doctors can work out how much insulin a diabetes patient is making themselves. If C-peptide is present in significant amounts, it might indicate that the person does not have Type 1 diabetes at all, and consequently may not need daily insulin injections, according to BBC News.
Around 315,000 people are currently living in Scotland. The test is being rolled out as of Monday 1 November across the country, in hospital diabetes centres.
Diabetes and endocrinology consultant Prof Mark Strachan led a two-year study into the test. Prof Strachan said: “C-peptide helps diabetes specialists make a more accurate diagnosis of the cause of diabetes, and that means we can get people on the most appropriate treatment. In some instances, C-peptide testing allowed people to stop very long-standing insulin therapy. This can be life-transforming.”
Scottish Public Health Minister, Maree Todd said:
“Type 1 diabetes is a significant health challenge right across the world. I am proud that Scotland will be the first country to introduce this blood test which has the potential to have a significant positive impact on the lives of those people living with diabetes.”
Conor McKeever, Research Communications Manager at JDRF, congratulated Prof Strachan on the results of his trial, but struck a cautionary tone on relying on the new test: “It’s an important reminder that whilst new treatments and technologies are reducing some of the burden of taking insulin, this burden will only be fully lifted when we find cures for type 1 diabetes.”