Holy Grail: Understanding CF related diabetes

Cystic fibrosis

4 Aug 2016


Paediatric respiratory fellow Dr Bernadette Prentice tells us about her Holy Grail: to be able to detect which patients with CF will go on to develop diabetes at an earlier age.

Bernadette Prentice

What’s the issue your research is trying to solve?

Patients with Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD) often do more poorly than their cohort without diabetes.  Our research group is looking at how glucose abnormalities progress in patients with CF so that they may be identified earlier, prior to any significant clinical  decline.

What have you discovered so far?
It is well known that patients with CFRD do not often present with classical features of diabetes. Current screening methods do not identify abnormal glucose tolerance that may be clinically relevant in CF and may miss a significant proportion of patients with diabetes.

What’s been your biggest hurdle?
The biggest hurdle to date has been getting ethics approval to undertake the project. We have had great interest from the families and I have a very supportive clinical team.

How far is your work from impacting patient care?
Some of our patients have had CF-related diabetes diagnosed as a part of the research project that was otherwise undetected. These patients are immediately started on insulin. Within a couple of years, the OGTT method currently used to diagnose CFRD may be proven to be too insensitive to diagnose clinically significant CF-related early glucose abnormalities.

If you could discover one thing in your research, what would it be? (e.g what’s your holy grail?)
I would like to be able to detect which patients with CF will go on to develop diabetes at an earlier age so that more intensive screening methods can be targeted at this group in the hope that earlier diagnosis will be able to prevent significant morbidity.

If you could take two things to a desert island what would they be?
A great book and a boat for when I’m ready to leave

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I love reading so this is a tricky one to answer.  I’ve recently read “Extremely loud, Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer and thought it was great.

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