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IU researchers in nationwide network to study rare form of diabetes

Research hands

INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana University School of Medicine researchers are participating in the Rare and Atypical Diabetes Network (RADIANT), a nationwide study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study seeks to discover new forms of diabetes, identify their causes, and understand how they differ from more common types of diabetes.

“A person with atypical diabetes could easily be misdiagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes,” said Carmella Evans-Molina, MD, PhD, lead investigator of the study at IU School of Medicine. “But because their disease is fundamentally different, they may respond differently to standard treatments. Our goal is to understand those differences so that we can better help these patients and the care teams that treat them.”

Across the country, investigators in the RADIANT study will screen about 2,000 people with unknown or atypical forms of diabetes—forms that do not fit the common features of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Their goal is to build a comprehensive resource of genetic, clinical and descriptive data on previously unidentified forms of diabetes.
“Increasingly, data show that there aren’t just a few causes or types of diabetes. We estimate that upwards of 5 to 10 percent of diabetes cases can be classified as atypical,” said Evans-Molina, who is also the director of the Indiana University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases. “RADIANT will provide critical insight into this emerging spectrum and could hold the key to future targets for prevention and treatment.”

Evans-Molina and a team of IU researchers will collect detailed health information using questionnaires, physical exams, genetic sequencing, blood samples, and more from trial participants—including people with atypical diabetes and some of their family members. Evans-Molina said that this, in addition to other data from previous studies, could pave the way for a more personalized approach to diabetes further down the road.

“RADIANT was designed in a very unique way,” said Zeb Saeed, MBBS, assistant professor of clinical medicine, endocrinologist and study co-investigator. “A patient can work with their doctor who can refer them to participate in the study. Alternatively, a patient can be self-referred to the study by answering a few questions on the RADIANT website.”  

IU is one of 20 institutions in the RADIANT network. Other members of the team at the IU study site in Indianapolis are Emily Sims, MD, MS; Zeb Saeed, MBBS; Anna Neyman, MD; Kelly Moors, CCRP; Marimar Hernandez-Perez, PhD; and Maria Spall, RN, CCRP.

The study opened for recruitment on September 30, 2020, for people with atypical diabetes. Visit the RADIANT study website for more information on the study and how to join. 

The University of South Florida is the RADIANT study coordinating center. The University of Florida, Gainesville, provides the study’s laboratory services. Other participating centers are: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; the University of Chicago; the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts; 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; and Washington University in St. Louis.

Support for the study is provided through NIDDK grants U54DK118638 and U54DK118612


About IU School of Medicine
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.

About the IU Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases
The Indiana University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases is a P30-funded NIDDK Diabetes Research Center. Its expert services, rich resources and engaging activities provide its member investigators with a supportive and highly collaborative environment in basic, translational and clinical research in the IU School of Medicine network. Membership is made of nearly 100 multidisciplinary experts representing Indiana University, IUPUI, Purdue University, the Indiana BioSciences Research Institute.