Diagnosing type 1 diabetes using insulin neoepitopes


Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Britain – and is getting ever more prevalent.

Although less than one in ten diabetes patients have type 1 diabetes, it is much more common among children.

Around 90% of children and young people in Britain who have diabetes will have type 1 diabetes. Severity peaks in early childhood, and again during puberty.

There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes, nor do we know exactly what causes it – other than that it tends to be genetic rather than down to lifestyle or diet.

Early diagnosis is vital to prevent serious additional health problems so people can continue to enjoy as normal a life as possible. We urgently need user-friendly tests sensitive enough to predict and diagnose type 1 diabetes early, especially for patients whose immune responses to pancreas proteins remain undetectable by current blood tests.

Queen Mary scientists led by Professor Ahuva Nissim have developed an innovative approach to diagnosis which identifies epitopes within the insulin sequence recognised by autoantibodies in type 1 diabetes. The breakthrough discovery provides a robust and practical approach for identifying type 1 diabetes early on and informing what treatments will work best.

A patent has been filed so we’re looking for a partner to help us develop this diagnostic further.



Dr Mark Gurden –



Professor Ahuva Nissim, Professor in Antibody and Therapeutic Engineering