The centre for diabetes research

Download Grant Morahan's presentation from 13th Nov here.

The Centre for Diabetes Research was established in 2005 by an initiative of Diabetes Research WA. The Centre resides in Perth, Western Australia within the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research

Current research projects at the centre

Developing insulin production cells

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the autoimmune destruction of cells in the pancreas (insulin-secreting islet beta (β) cells).

The best prospect for a cure is to transplant islet cells or to regenerate these β cells. To regenerate cells, we can use pancreatic stem cells (pancreatic progenitor/stem cells (PPSCs)). However, the poor availability of donor islets and problems with the process of (re)generating β cells, either in the lab or in the body, have hampered the ability to use this technology in the doctor's clinic. The Beta Cell Development and Regeneration Program within the Centre for Diabetes Research was established in 2007 under Senior Research Fellow Dr Fang-Xu Jiang.

Understanding the genetics of diabetes

The Centre for Diabetes Research (CDR) has published the largest ever genetic linkage study undertaken in the top-ranked journal – Diabetes – in the field of diabetes research. This was the outcome of the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium’s (T1DGC) ten-year study. The study analysed data gathered from over 4,000 pairs of brothers and sisters (with type 1 diabetes) to identify genes that affect the risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D).

The outcome of this study so far:

  • six sub-types of type 1 diabetes have been found
  • four sub-types of type 2 diabetes have been found
  • over 60 genes were identified that affect the risk of developing T1D and
  • these genes interact in an apparently random fashion.

What does this mean?

It is likely that the sub-types of diabetes represent real disease states that have different characteristics and this will give doctors accurate information to deliver treatment which suits your type of diabetes. it helps us understand how and why diabetes affects people differently.

This research is ongoing at the Centre

Environmental factors and the risk of developing type 1 diabetes

The Australian Childhood Diabetes DNA Repository (ACDDR) invited families of children affected by either T1D or child-onset T2D to provide DNA samples to assist in discovering the genetic causes behind diabetes. At the end of 2010 the ACDDR had collected 1812 complete trio families (children with T1D and both biological parents). These families have now been tested for the 40 T1D genes identified by the T1DGC and the results were very surprising. While many of the genes showed a significant effect in Australian families, there were many that appeared to have no effect at all.

This suggests that there are environmental interactions with the genes that cause diabetes and that these environmental factors differ between Australia and the United Kingdom where the genes were first identified.

Professor Grant Morahan (Director of the Centre) is confident that there will some very exciting results and progress from this research in the coming year!

Like to know more? Send us an email and we will forward a report to you.

Your support has helped us fund this vital and important research. But we need to push on as the incidence of diabetes is rising around the world. The more support we receive the more research we can undertake... and find a cure.


to advance research
to help find a cure
to raise awareness