Investigating the aetiology of non-autoimmune young-onset diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Understanding the causes of an unusual form of diabetes in young people in sub-Saharan Africa



Investigating the possible causes of an unusual non-autoimmune form of diabetes in young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

What are we doing?

Previous research conducted in Africa suggested that type 1 diabetes may be different from that seen elsewhere. This research found that in a population of children and young adults clinically diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority have a form of severe diabetes which is not type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Understanding the cause or causes of this severe form of diabetes will help clinicians to easily identify them based on their clinical presentation and help them tailor treatment to the specificities of the cause or causes.

How are we doing it?

We will use the data of 1379 participants from the Young-onset diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa (YODA) study to investigate four possible aetiologies which may be causing this non-autoimmune form of diabetes in this African population and use a mixture of laboratory, genetic and statistical techniques to investigate them. The four causes are:

  • novel undescribed islet autoantibodies
  • malnutrition
  • early-onset type 2 diabetes
  • or monogenic diabetes

What happens next?

Our findings will inform future projects to clinically define each specific group of individuals based on the aetiology and thereby what might be the best ways to provide adequate treatment.


Dr. Richard Oram

Professor Eugene Sobngwi, University of Yaoundé I Cameroon

Professor Moffat Nyirenda, MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, Uganda

Professor Kathleen Gillespie, Department of Diabetes & Metabolism, University of Bristol


Project Lead

Prof Angus Jones

Project Researcher

People involved

Prof Tim McDonald

Senior Investigator Fellow