Type 2 diabetes

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  • The creation of the next-generation genetic resource, The Gene Mine, which is being used globally to help with rapid mapping and identification of genes. For example, Melbourne collaborators found genes that control body weight and type 2 diabetes susceptibility.
  • Showing that lupin-supplemented diets have beneficial effects in protecting against type 2 diabetes-related traits such as blood levels of the obesity hormone, leptin. Lupin dietary intervention significantly decreased leptin levels. Knowing lupin-based diets may improve general health by reducing obesity in some people could help keep type 2 diabetes rates down.
  • Research showing type 2 diabetes can dramatically affect the everyday thinking skills of up to 1 in 3 adults aged 60 and older. Brain-related changes linked to type 2 diabetes can lead to problems such as memory difficulty, poor attention and slower speed of thought.
  • Finding that MRI brain scans may be able to help predict which people with type 2 diabetes are more at risk of developing dementia, opening up new possibilities for being able to prevent or delay it.
  • Establishing the Australian Childhood Diabetes DNA Repository which recruited more than 3000 families affected by type 1 or young-onset type 2 diabetes. Several studies have been conducted using this genetic information, identifying many diabetes-related genes. The resource is available to Australian researchers so has the potential to provide many more advances.
  • Using bone marrow transplantation experiments, successfully demonstrating that haematopoietic cells (cells within the bone marrow that produce cells that circulate in the blood) are a major source of the TNFSF14 protein that protects against diet-induced obesity. This work may give rise to new treatments for type 2 diabetes as none of the commonly used anti-obesity drugs has resulted in consistent and effective weight loss.
  • Confirming the protein SLIRP plays a role in energy metabolism, possibly due to its effect on the activity and expression of the protein Egr1 – a transcription factor known to modulate insulin sensitivity. The ultimate hope is to find ways to ‘silence’ SLIRP to normalise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and, in doing so, prevent diabetic complications.
  • Discovering 3 type 2 diabetes subtypes, paving the way for prevention of serious complications.

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