Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK have created a new calculator to accurately diagnose and classify patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The calculator is designed to analyse patient data along with results from a blood test. It will identify whether an individual would have type 1 diabetes in order to minimise misdiagnosis and allow appropriate treatment.

Existing approaches to identify type 1 diabetes include detection of antibodies against insulin-making cells or examination of genetic risk.

However, such type of tests do not provide diagnosis and may not be interpreted correctly based on the presence or absence of other signs and symptoms.

Meant to facilitate personalised medicine, the new calculator leverages a model that analyses a person’s body mass index (BMI) and age of diagnosis in combination with blood test results.

The calculator is based on a previous online calculator developed by the researchers to identify the diabetes subtype MODY, which is caused by a single gene.

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According to the researchers, more than 100,000 people used the online calculator, including more than 9,000 who downloaded the Diabetes Diagnostics calculator phone app.

The Diabetes Diagnostics app is set to be updated to include the new calculator.

New research found that nearly 50% of the referrals sent to the UK diagnostic laboratory for MODY report current use of the calculator. A greater detection rate was also observed with the calculator.

The research was presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference held in Barcelona, Spain.

University of Exeter Medical School researcher Dr Angus Jones said: “The right diagnosis in diabetes is absolutely crucial to getting the best outcomes for patients, as treatment is very different in different types of diabetes. However in some people it can be very difficult to know what type of diabetes they have.

“Our new calculator can help clinicians by combining different features to give them the probability a person will have type 1 diabetes, and assess whether additional tests are likely to be helpful.”

The calculator was developed in alliance with the Universities of Oxford and Dundee.

The study, which was funded by the UK’s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), analysed data from 1,352 diabetes patients and tested the calculator in an additional 582 participants.