JDRF and IBM join forces to study risk factors for type 1 diabetes in children
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic, life-threatening disease that currently affects over 300,000 Canadians. The average incidence rate has been growing at an estimated 5.1% per year – higher than the global average. Given the steady increase of children diagnosed with T1D, JDRF is collaborating with IBM on a large-scale research project to investigate the risk factors leading to its onset.
Using previously collected data from JDRF-funded studies from around the world, IBM scientists are developing and applying machine learning algorithms – a type of artificial intelligence – to reveal patterns and factors at play, with the goal of identifying ways that could delay or prevent T1D in children. The comprehensive analysis will explore the inclusion of genetic, familial, autoantibody and other variables to create a baseline of features that is common to all data sets. Based on a comparison of the different models produced, JDRF will not only be able to pinpoint top predictive risk factors for T1D, but also group patients accordingly. Additionally, leveraging the records created by new patients entering the health care system will also enable a deeper understanding of the disease, and best strategies for its prevention and management.
This collaboration is expected to create an entry point for T1D in the field of precision medicine by combining JDRF’s connections to global research teams and its subject matter expertise in T1D research with the technical capability and advanced computing power of IBM.
“One of JDRF’s greatest strengths is our ability to engage both the public and private sector to accelerate T1D research,” says Dave Prowten, president and chief executive officer at JDRF in Canada. “This collaboration with IBM is a great example of our extraordinary global research program aligning with a blue-chip global company, and how working together we can have a significant impact on the lives of people with T1D and their families.”