Michigan Medicine participates in first nationwide network to study rare forms of diabetes

Michigan Medicine is participating in a nationwide study funded by the National Institutes of Health that will seek to discover the cause of several unusual forms of diabetes. For years, doctors and researchers have been stymied by cases of diabetes that differ from known types. Through research efforts at Michigan Medicine and 19 other U.S. research institutions, the study aims to discover new forms of diabetes, understand what makes them different, and identify their causes.

The Rare and Atypical Diabetes Network, or RADIANT, plans to screen about 2,000 people with unknown or atypical forms of diabetes that do not fit the common features of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

A person with atypical diabetes may be diagnosed and treated for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but not have a history or signs consistent with their diagnosis. For example, they may be diagnosed and treated for type 2 diabetes but may not have any of the typical risk factors for this diagnosis, such as being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, or being diagnosed as an adult. Alternately, a person with atypical diabetes may respond differently than expected to the standard diabetes treatments.

“We’re excited to contribute to the RADIANT study through our deep commitment to understand and better treat rare and unusual forms of diabetes,” says Elif Oral, M.D., an endocrinologist at Michigan Medicine. “Michigan Medicine has pioneered this field through the work of Dr. Stefan Fajan by defining Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young and we carried the torch in our current division through the work of Dr. Peter Arvan’s lab and our clinical translational studies in lipodystrophy.”

RADIANT researchers will build a comprehensive resource of genetic, clinical, and descriptive data on previously unidentified forms of diabetes for the scientific and healthcare communities.

The study’s researchers will collect detailed health information using questionnaires, physical exams, genetic sequencing, blood samples, and other tests. People found to have unknown forms of diabetes may receive additional testing. Some participant family members may also be invited to take part in the study.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Oral’s team at the University of Michigan Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute has been chosen for this important study,” says Martin G. Myers, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute.  “In addition to helping to understand the causes of diabetes, Dr. Oral’s work has the potential to identify new and better treatments for patients in the RADIANT study and for others with diabetes.”

USF is the study’s coordinating center, and the lead centers include Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the University of Chicago. The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Baylor serve as the genomic sequencing centers for the project. University of Florida, Gainesville, provides the study’s laboratory services. Other participating centers are:

  • Columbia University, New York City
  • Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania
  • Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • NorthShore University Health System, Chicago
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Brooklyn
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Washington University in St. Louis

The study opened recruitment on September 30, 2020 for people with atypical diabetes or a form of diabetes that seems different from known types of diabetes. Visit www.atypicaldiabetesnetwork.org for more information on the study and how to join.