A Maltese doctor has been awarded a prestigious grant from the National Institute for Health Research ahead of 13 other centres in the UK.
The grant of up to a quarter of a million pounds will allow Dr Miguel Debono, a Consultant in Endocrinology and Diabetes and Honorary Senior Lecturer, to assess the use of a new test that will identify patients who lack the ability to produce their own natural body steroids and suffer from a condition known as adrenal insufficiency (AI).
Adrenal insufficiency is when the body is unable to produce cortisol, an essential hormone for overcoming stress, including illness and injury.
Left untreated, the body can no longer regulate blood sugar, control blood pressure or reduce inflammation, increasing the risk of emergency admission, cardiac arrest and eventually death, if symptoms worsen
AI is currently diagnosed in hospital by a laborious test involving taking blood to measure cortisol before and 30 minutes after an injection. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of AI are common as symptoms are non-specific.
The study is aimed to be tested within the NHS in the next three years and implement its use as part of everyday clinical care throughout the UK, saving an estimated 10 million pounds every year.
Dr Miguel Debono is a lead specialist in the stress steroid hormone cortisol and over recent years has established himself as a worldwide expert in the area and has been invited to deliver presentations international conferences.
His work includes identifying ways on how to diagnose steroid disturbances more specifically problems with cortisol rhythm and developing methods on how to restore the cortisol rhythm in patients with steroid deficiency or excess.