Three UK health charities are funding a five-year, multicentre international study to determine whether cholesterol-lowering statins and/or ACE-inhibitors for lowering blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart and kidney disease in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.

In the study backed by Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, researchers from the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Cambridge and 11 other sites across the UK, Canada and Australia have started screening 11-16 year-olds with Type 1 diabetes to find 500 with high protein (albumin) levels in their urine, which may point to a higher risk of developing heart and kidney disease in later life.

The researchers also want to identify 400 adolescents with lower protein levels who are considered at low or medium risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

Type 1 diabetes can cut life expectancy by up to 20 years, often due to cardiovascular disease affecting the heart and circulatory system, while one third of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease, the charities pointed out. Statins and ACE-inhibitors have been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease in adults with diabetes, but the Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Intervention Trial co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge will be the first study of its kind in young people, they noted.

The high-risk adolescents will be randomised to one of four groups, to be followed up for five years each. They will receive either a statin and placebo, an ACE-inhibitor and placebo, both a statin and an ACE-inhibitor, or two placebos. The lower-risk group will be given neither statins nor ACE-inhibitors but will be followed up for four years as a comparison.

The researchers will keep in contact with all of the trial participants for another five to 10 years to determine the long-term effects of treatment.