10:57am Wednesday 22 January 2020

Type 1 diabetes: Early detection – Good treatment in early stages

 The Helmholtz Zentrum München – in conjunction with the Bavarian State Ministry of Public Health and Care Services and other cooperation partners – has today given the green light for type 1 diabetes screening across Bavaria. The Fr1da study will enable all children between two and five years of age to undergo free tests for the early detection of type 1 diabetes. The aim is to achieve early diagnosis and provide the best possible treatment for the affected children in the early stages of the disease.

Type 1 diabetes: Early detection – Good treatment in early stages

Type 1 diabetes: Early detection – Good treatment in early stages

The study is being led by Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Director of the Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. At the launch event in Munich, she stressed the significance of this most common metabolic disorder in childhood: “Across Germany about 15,000 children under the age of 14 are affected by type 1 diabetes, and we expect these numbers to continue to increase.”

Diabetes usually strikes children suddenly, and for the young patients and their families it is totally unexpected. Not infrequently this disorder is diagnosed when blood sugar exceeds life-threatening levels. “Thanks to tests involving antibodies that are typically present in diabetes we can already diagnose the disease months or years before its onset,” Professor Ziegler says. “This gives the children and their relatives valuable time to prepare themselves for managing the disease.” As part of the Fr1da study, scientists are also conducting research into innovative approaches with a view to delaying or even preventing the onset of the disease. The purpose of the screening program is to identify participants who could benefit from such a treatment.

Bavaria’s Minister for Public Health and Care Services, Melanie Huml, has assumed patronage of the project, which is the only one of its kind in Germany. At the opening event held in Munich, she commented: “With the Fr1da study we are treading a new path in terms of preventive health care in Bavaria. By means of a simple blood test we can now determine whether a child is at risk of developing type 1 diabetes. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better it can be treated. I was very glad to accept the patronage of this study. As a health minister and also as the mother of a young son, it is a matter of immense importance to me that the parents of chronically ill children receive support from the very outset.”

The Helmholtz Zentrum München has longstanding experience and outstanding expertise in population-based studies and clinical trials. “If this scientific study succeeds, it will mark a milestone in the prevention of type 1 diabetes,” said Professor Günther Wess, CEO of the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “The huge international interest in this study reflects its global significance.”

Musical accompaniment at the launch event for Fr1da was provided by the Bavarian duo Sternschnuppe (shooting star) comprising Margit Sarholz and Werner Meier, who perform children’s songs. In future, Sternschnuppe will also act as an ambassador for the project. Frida, incidentally, is the name of the main protagonist in a newly published book about diabetes, which has been written specially for parents.

To date, project partners of the Fr1da study have been the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Professional Association of Pediatricians (Bavarian Branch), the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority as well as the Bavarian Pediatric Network (PaedNetz Bayern). The project is sponsored by the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Healthy Living in Bavaria (a health initiative launched by the Bavarian State Ministry of Public Health and Care Services), the Bavarian Association of Company Health Insurance Funds and the U.S.-based organization JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)).

Please visit our press information page on the Fr1da study (in German only), where you will find all the key press material (press releases, statements, press photos, videos, information flyers etc.).

Further Information

More detailed information for participants and doctors on the aims of the screening program and related procedures is available on the Fr1da study website (in German only)

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches to the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,200 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research.

The Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) focuses on the pathogenesis and prevention of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes and the long-term effects of gestational diabetes. A major project is the development of an insulin vaccination against type 1 diabetes. The IDF conducts long-term studies to examine the link between genes, environmental factors and the immune system for the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Findings of the BABYDIAB study, which was established in 1989 as the world’s first prospective birth cohort study, identified risk genes and antibody profiles. These permit predictions to be made about the pathogenesis and onset of type 1 diabetes and will lead to changes in the classification and the time of diagnosis. The IDF is part of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC).

The German Center for Diabetes Research e.V. brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and combines basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. The members of the association are the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DifE) in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Helmholtz Zentrum München – the German Research Center for Environmental Health, the Paul Langerhans Institutes of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital in Dresden and the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen as well as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Research Association and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. The aim of the DZD is to find answers to unsolved questions in diabetes research by adopting a novel, integrative approach and to make a significant contribution towards improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.

contact for the media
Ulrike Koller, communication department, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health(GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Phone: 089-3187-2526 – Fax: 089-3187-3324 – Email

scientific contact
Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Institute of Diabetes Research, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Phone: 089-3187-3405 – Email

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