DRWA 2020 Diabetes Research Project Grants
West Australian researchers have won funding to progress their research in 2020. Two new research projects we announced on World Diabetes Day (14th Nov) at the DRWA Research Reveal Breakfast held in Crawley.
Two $60,000 research grants were awarded to:
Associate Professor Julia Marley from the Rural Clinical School of WA for her research into improving screening for hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar level) in pregnancy in rural and remote women. This could lead to better antenatal care and improve the outcome for mothers and their babies. You can read more here
Associate Researcher Lakshini Herat and her team to investigate a new class of drugs (SGLT2 inhibitor) to reduce blindness in diabetes related eye disease (diabetic retinopathy). You can read more about this grant here
These research grants are only made available due to the valued generosity from all our supporters. We, and the researchers, are indebited to all for your gift no matter how large or small.
On behalf of Team DRWA, thank you!
Research Grants for 2019 have been awarded in 3 separate categories:
Clinical/translational Research - $60,000
Dr Aveni Haynes, Research Fellow; Telethon Kids Institute
Using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to characterise early dysglycaemia in young children at risk of type 1 diabetes’
Fundamental/basic science - $60,000
Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger; Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology
Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Extended research - $60,000
Assistant Professor Vance Mathews; Head of Basic Science (Dobney Hypertension Centre)
TNFSF14-derived molecules as a novel treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes
2017 (for 2018) Grants awarded in Western Australia
- Artificial intelligence diagnosing of retinopathy (blindness) in a GP clinic - Professor Yogisan Kanagasingam (CSIRO)
Detecting the early changes to your eyes from diabetes is vital to prevent blindness. Professor Yogisan Kanagasinam and colleagues from the CSIRO have developed an eye camera that can be used in GP clinics to detect any changes quickly and easily. Images already captured will be checked for accuracy. Following any software changes the cameras will be rolled out for GP clinics. Read more here
- Prescribed statins, gut microbiota and increased risk of type 2 diabetes - Professor Fergal O'gara (Curtin University)
Do statins increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Professor Fergal O'Gara and his team at Curitn University will invetigate whether this is linked to changes in the gut mircrobiota caused by statin use. Read more here
2016 (for 2017) Grants awarded in Western Australia
'The effect of hyperglycaemia in standard and low insulin states on exercise performance compared to exercise performance in euglycaemia'
Dr Karen Rothacker, Princess Margaret Hospital
The aims of this project are to investigate whether exercise performance in patients with type 1 diabetes is affected by exercising with a high blood glucose level and whether exercising with a high blood glucose level with normal insulin compared to high blood glucose level with low insulin affects exercise performance.
'Role of the sympathetic nervous system in regulation of sodium glucose co-transporter 2: implications for type 2 diabetes'
- Assistant Professor Vance Mathews UWA
The aim for this research is to identify and develop therapeutic targets for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.
2016 diabetes research projects
Two $75,000 diabetes research project grants were awarded for 2016
Sunlight, nitric oxide, obesity and type 2 diabetes: exploring the role of brown adipose tissue
- Dr Shelley Gorman; from The Kids Institute in Perth, WA
This study will significantly improve our understanding of the mechanisms of action of sun exposure, and its important potential for clinical application.
These results will contribute towards the evidence-‐base for health policies promoting activity and exercise outdoors, with sun exposure a key element in a framework to address lifestyle changes for type-‐2 diabetes and obesity prevention. Our findings will also inform future intervention studies in humans that test the efficacy of sun exposure for reducing signs of type-‐2 diabetes and obesity. By understanding these metabolic pathways modulated by ultraviolet radiation, this may open the door for new therapeutics for type-‐2 diabetes and obesity.
Results from thi research suggest that the effects of UVR on the development of signs of type-2 diabetes may not be dependent on the genetic background of the individual (or mouse). However, we stress that these findings are preliminary, and the analysis of a further experiment is still pending.
Predicting which people with diabetes are at risk for heart disease
- Professor Grant Morahan; from the WA Centre for Diabetes Research in Perth, WA.
Professor Morahan and his team are working on developing a genetic test that will predict the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes decades before it develops giving people the best opportunity to prevent such an occurrence.
This research is ongoing and we look forwarad to updating this research in due course.
2015 diabetes research projects
Diabetes Research WA awarded two research grants of $75,000 for 2015
Examine the functional role Cdk4 gene plays in regulating beta cell islet cell homeostasis
- Associate Professor Gerard Hoyne; The University of Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle, WA
Professor Hoyne suspects a mutant protein could be triggering type 1 diabetes in patients who display no signs of an autoimmune attack, the usual cause of type 1 diabetes.
Most people with type 1 diabetes develop the disease when their body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas but in some patients, that’s not the case. These people show no evidence of autoimmune markers in the blood so what’s triggering their diabetes, and the death of their beta cells, is a mystery.
Preliminary studies have revealed the recessive gene mutation caused a protein error that led to a critical loss in insulin production due to the premature death of islet beta cells. This eventually leads to the mice developing diabetes so part of the project also aims to uncover why this protein, which is much longer than normal, doesn’t work correctly and how it shortens the lifespan of beta cells and affects insulin secretion, he explained. Professor Hoyne has known for some time that Cdk4 is a diabetes susceptibility gene but unraveling this part of the mystery could improve the treatment of type 1 diabetes in the future, in particular with regards to creating important islet cell transplant therapies.
A randomized trial to improve and protect beta cells following kidney transplant
- Dr Aron Chakera; Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Nedlands, WA
Dr Chakera is set to investigate if early intervention can help markedly reduce the number of kidney transplant patients who develop type 2 diabetes. Dr Chakera is also the head of translational renal research at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands.
Post-transplant diabetes mellitus (PTDM) affects up to one in two kidney transplant patients within a year of receiving their new organ and is linked to poorer graft and patient outcomes and an increased risk of death. Uncovering ways to reduce the number of patients who develop it is very important.
PTDM is believed to be triggered by increased insulin resistance and reduced insulin secretion, both of which can be side effects of the immunosuppressive drugs given to transplant patients to reduce the chances of their body rejecting their new organ. Traditionally, doctors concerned about PTDM have started with lifestyle modifications for patients with other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes such as obesity, and focused on optimising immunosuppressant therapy, progressing to drugs or insulin therapy to lower blood glucose levels if needed. The concern with this approach is it exposes many patients to significantly elevated blood glucose levels for many weeks which can spark complications, with some studies showing high blood sugar in the immediate period after transplantation can be a risk factor for acute rejection.
This clinical trial aims to discover the best method for earlier introduction of medications to help stablise blood sugar levels by bringing insulin or the drug sitagliptin combined with metformin into the post-transplant treatment regime earlier. It is hoped this will better protect the body’s insulin-producing beta cells and bring down the rates of PTDM.
2014 diabetes research projects
Predicting risk of developing type 1 diabetes and diabetes complications
- Professor Grant Morahan; The Centre for Diabetes Research
Professor Grant Morahan and his team have been working on finding a method to predict who will develop type 1 diabetes and who will go on to develop complications from diabetes. The belief is that this information lies in our genes.
Research will be conducted in conjunction with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital whereby people who have had their DNA tested for T1 diabetes makers before will be asked to have their DNA tested for markers associated with kidney disease.
Brothers and sisters will also be asked to participate and have their DNA tested. If enough people get involved a test could be developed to predict which siblings are at low risk of developing diabetes.
Developing treatments for obesity induced diabetes - 'diabesity'
- Assistant Professor Vance Mathews; Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research
Type 2 diabetes it a major health issue and needs urgent attention. It is of critical importance new treatments are developed to tackle and decrease type 2 diabetes.
Work from this group has implicated a number of circulating proteins in both obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Current work focuses on the circulating protein called TNFSF14. A team in The Laboratory for Metabolic Dysfunction has demonstrated that the protein TNFSF14 is increased when obesity and type 2 diabetes exists but the exact role of this protein is not known.
Investigations will now take place into the role of this protein in obesity and type 2 diabetes
The Specific Aims of the Project are to:
- Determine whether TNFSF14 protein from bone marrow cells reduces high fat diet induced obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Ascertain whether circulating levels of TNFSF14 protein have decreased after weight loss has reversed type 2 diabetes in humans.
The exciting studies proposed have an overall aim of identifying new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Completed research projects
Ongoing research projects
Developing functional insulin producing cells - ongoing research
Professor Grant Morahan & Associate Professor Fang-Xu Jiang: Centre for Diabetes Research
Understanding what role the protein 'SLIRP' plays in diabetes complications
Professor Peter Leedman; WAIMR
Following the natural life of diabetes, the associated complications and other data in early adult life in childhood onset type 1 diabetes.
Associate Professor Elizabeth Davis and Matt Cooper - Telethon Kids Institute
Predicting risks and outcomes of diabetes - part of ongoing research at the Centre for Diabetes Research
Professor Grant Morahan: The Centre for Diabetes Research
Identifying markers of cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes - due for completion late 2015
Nicole Milne; recipient of the Alex Cohen Diabetes Scholarship UWA
Understanding the development of diabetic retinopathy - now complete. Report available soon
Lakshini Weeraekera, Alex Cohen Diabetes Scholarship; The Centre for Diabetes Research