The Natural History Study

Another interesting study that is open to just about anyone is The Diabetes Natural History Study ( It is a branch of the TrialNet study Ava is now in. This study, according to the listing on, "will screen relatives of people with type 1 diabetes to identify those at risk for developing the disease. Relatives of people with type 1 diabetes have about a 3 to 4 percent chance of being positive for the antibodies associated with diabetes. TrialNet will identify adults and children at risk for developing diabetes by testing for the presence of these antibodies in the blood. A positive antibody test is an early indication that damage to insulin-secreting cells may have begun. If this test is positive, additional testing will be offered to determine the likelihood that a person may develop diabetes. Individuals with antibodies will be offered the opportunity for further testing to determine their risk of developing diabetes over the next 5 years and to receive close monitoring for the development of diabetes."

Learning More About Clinical Trials

If you are interested in clinical trial research, a wonderful resource is Once on this site, simply enter keywords related to the research you want to learn about into the search box and brace yourself. If you just enter the word "diabetes", 3,711 options appear. It is easy to determine which trials are recruiting and which are active and investigating. There are red and green icons on the left side of the screen to help you navigate. Just for fun, check out the trial on diabetes and skittles! (This trial is completed – don't get your hopes up.)

There is plenty online about diabetes research, but then at the same time it feels like there is a lull. Many of the reports and articles I read were dated years ago. I am saddened, as a patient, at the slow pace of research. It is astounding that discoveries made in 2001 are just now making their way to clinical trials. (i.e. Dr. Faustman's study.)

Bringing it Home

As a result of my research for this article and conversations with my mother about the anxiety I feel about learning Ava's results from her TrialNet screening, my mother, father, and brother have been inspired to participate in diabetes research as well. All have obtained lab kits for blood draws to be entered into the Natural History study. I can't tell you how much it means to me that my family has decided to help in my fight against this disease. It is also a beautiful story for little Ava as she one day learns of her early contributions to science. I hope all will be touched in unique ways that can later be shared with you.

In the frustration of living with this disease, it helps to know that there are people getting up, going to work, and fighting for us each and every day. The research is extensive and hopefully some of it will bring results that will meet each of us where we are in life with diabetes.

So, to answer the question set forth at the beginning of this article, I don't know what holds the most promise. I do know, however, that if my child develops diabetes, she will be stronger, wiser, smarter, more dedicated, more disciplined, and more persistent because of it. I will do everything in my power to teach her that there is great beauty, potential, and blessing in life's challenges – diabetes included. Then, we will fight hard to find whatever we can to ease her pain and lessen her experience. If she doesn't have diabetes, I hope she will be just as committed to being a part of the solution. I also hope she learns a thing or two about how to face challenges, heartache, and pain by living life with me, a person with diabetes.

Nicole Johnson

Read Nicole's bio here.

Read more of Nicole Johnson's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.


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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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