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Attempt at medical history

Monday, 6th April, 2009

Young Olivia Norley is taking part in a groundbreaking clinical trial that could make a common disease a thing of the past. The 10-year-old is participating in the trial which might result in Type 1 diabetes being prevented and the doing away with daily insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile or early onset diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin. The Norley family first became involved in research into the disease after Olivia's mother, Cecilia, received a letter from the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital saying her family would be eligible for screening for the trial.

Cecilia has battled diabetes for almost 30 years, making her immediate family ideal candidates for a new vaccine. Preliminary tests showed Olivia had enough antibodies in her blood to make her a high risk candidate for developing Type 1 diabetes, and the hospital subsequently flew the family to Adelaide for further testing. Cecilia said taking part in the trial had improved her daughter's chances of avoiding the disease and had educated the family in the process. "We're really lucky to have caught it early. It hasn't affected her everyday life, she's just accepted it," she said.

"It gives us a good opportunity to show her good eating habits, keep her in sports, and keep her weight right. It's just made the household much more aware. "Olivia will now take a vaccine in the form of a nasal spray for the next four years in an effort to stop diabetes from developing. The trial could provide a medicinal breakthrough for treating the disease, which affects around 20 million people worldwide. "It's basically vaccinating children against Type 1 diabetes... If this trial works it's making medical history really," said Cecilia.

The Norley family encouraged any young people (4 to 30 years) with a family history of Type 1 diabetes to take part in the trial, which requires only a simple blood test to determine eligibility. Those interested can call 1300 138 712 for further information, or visit www.stopdiabetes.com.au. Initial screening blood tests are carried out in Broken Hill, and travel expenses are covered for participants and a parent, if required.

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