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Researchers Offer Free Screening For Relatives Of Type 1 Diabetes Patients

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Anna Lehr sits on her mother's lap while getting a researcher draws blood (credit: CBS)

Anna Lehr sits on her mother’s lap while getting a researcher draws blood (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Researchers in Colorado believe Type 1 diabetes may be easier to prevent than cure, so they’re offering free screenings for relatives of people with the disease.

There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but there are clinical trials under way that may delay it or even prevent it.

The Lehrs went to the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes for their free annual blood tests. The simple screenings could detect their chances of developing the very complicated problem. Their mother, Debbie Lehr, has Type 1 diabetes.

“I have to take my medicine in order to live,” Debbie said.

Debbie has managed the disease for 16 years.

“I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody, honestly, it’s never ending; you never get a break,” Debbie said.

Connor and Anna Lehr have volunteered to become part of the research.

“It’s a labor of love,” Connor said.

Through a program called “Trialnet,” relatives of people with Type 1 are screened annually.

“We now have the ability to tell if someone’s going to get diabetes as long as 10 years before they’re diagnosed,” Dr. Peter Chase with the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes said.

Those found to be at risk can enter a study with an experimental drug, or one that tests the effectiveness of daily oral insulin in delaying or preventing Type 1.

“Diabetes in children is increasing at a rate of 5 percent a year; it’s going up constantly,” Chase said.

“I think sometimes, ‘What if I do get it? What will my life be like?’ ” Anna said.

“We’ve got to find a cure; we really have to find a cure,” Debbie said.

For now the Lehrs will do their part in fighting the disease and urge others to do the same.

“Perhaps your blood is the one that has the cure hiding in it somewhere,” Connor said.

The Lehr children so far are negative for Type 1 diabetes.

It’s easy to find out if you should be screened and to set up an appointment. Just call (800) 572-3992 or visit www.DiabetesTrialNet.org for more information.

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