Type 1 diabetes can affect any child. Children with type 1 diabetes and their families do heroic things every day. The children who take part in our studies and are helping to create a world without type 1 diabetes are heroes. You can find out why they are real superheroes in M1a’s and Em1l’s stories.


M1a has type 1 diabetes.

Emil hat ein erhöhtes Risiko für Typ-1-Diabetes.

This is M1a. M1a was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was six years old. This means that her body can no longer produce insulin, a vital hormone. Insulin helps all of us move the sugar that we eat out of our blood and into our cells. This is how our cells and organs get enough energy. Because M1a can no longer produce insulin herself, she has to supply her body with insulin several times a day. M1a has recently been using an insulin pump that she wears on her body, which automatically supplies her with insulin as needed. 

When M1a was three years old, she took part in a screening for autoantibodies, which can tell whether a child has developed an early stage of type 1 diabetes. Because no symptoms occur in early stage type 1 diabetes, this can only be identified with a blood test. So M1a had a few drops of her blood taken for the test as part of the research. Two autoantibodies were found, which are the first signs that M1a will one day develop type 1 diabetes. That is why M1a and her parents were able to prepare for the disease very well.

You can’t tell that M1a has an illness. She can do sports and play like other children. However, she always has to monitor her blood glucose. M1a wears a sensor that constantly measures her glucose levels. If her levels are too low, eating glucose can help her quickly, for example. If her levels are too high, she needs to balance out with the right amount of insulin. 

Dealing with her condition on a daily basis makes M1a a superhero!

Em1l has an increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes.

Gessie hat (noch) kein Typ-1-Diabetes

This is Em1l. Em1l does not have type 1 diabetes, but he has an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Em1l and his parents know this because he took part in a research study when he was a baby. The study tests the genetic risk to develop type 1 diabetes in new-borns and is conducted in Germany under the name Freder1k study. In the UK, the study us called INGRID2, in Sweden ASTR1D, and in Belgium and Poland as well Freder1k. 400,000 babies have already taken part in genetic screening through the Freder1k study. The screening showed that Em1l carries certain genes indicating an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. His parents then decided to take part in the POInT study with Em1l. In this study, the children are given either insulin powder or a placebo treatment together with their food. The aim of this is to stimulate the immune system and get it used to insulin, which is key target of the immune cells destroying the pancreas. The researchers in the POInT study want to find out whether this can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes. Em1l received the study medication for three years. Now Em1l is almost six years old, and he still comes to the study centre for regular checks. During the checks, Em1l’s blood is also tested to determine whether he has developed type 1 diabetes – luckily for him, it looks like so far, he has not. The results of the study bring the researchers a step further in answering the question of how type 1 diabetes develops and how it can be prevented in children. The POInT study is not taking any more participants, but the scientists involved are already researching further possibilities to investigate the development of the disease in children.

By participating in the study, Em1l is supporting GPPAD’s research mission: a world where no more children develop type 1 diabetes. That makes Em1l and his family real superheroes!


More heroic stories

Em1l is one of 400,000 babies tested across Europe for an increased genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes. He is also one of almost 2,000 children across Europe taking part in the GPPAD, Fr1da and TRIALNET intervention studies. M1a is one of 180,000 children in Germany who were tested for early-stage type 1 diabetes. These children and their families, as well as the health care staff and clinics that support the studies, are heroes. Learn more about their stories on our blog. 

Activate your superpowers and support the Hero K1ds in their mission!

You can be a superhero, too: Talk about type 1 diabetes in your community and become a Hero K1ds ambassador, take part in our research or support us with a donation. You can find out more here:

© Institut für Diabetesforschung – Helmholtz Munich 2023