RMIT researchers have been given a boost in their efforts to find new ways of preventing or managing diabetes, after being awarded grants from Diabetes Australia.
Professor Emilio Badoer and Professor Jiming Ye received the $60,000 Diabetes Australia Research Program (DARP) grants during an official ceremony at Government House in Melbourne.
Badoer, Professor of Neuropharmacology in the School of Medical Sciences, is investigating new therapies for cardiovascular complications caused by diabetes, while Ye, Professor of Ageing and Chronic Disease Management in the School of Health Sciences, explores new strategies to treat insulin resistance.
Internationally recognised for his research work on blood pressure control, Badoer is also head of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Discipline in the School of Medical Sciences.
He said his DARP grant would allow him to explore novel therapies for cardiovascular complications of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
“Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and the increased mortality associated with such risks,” Badoer said.
The planned work will explore novel new drugs that could work to reduce the detrimental cardiovascular changes seen in diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
“We are really excited to have been awarded this grant from Diabetes Australia,” Badoer said.
“It recognises the novelty of our work here at RMIT and the potential to really help reduce the health burden posed by diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.”
His colleague and fellow grant recipient Ye said the human liver was one of the major organs responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
“The liver’s failure to respond to insulin is an important reason for the elevated blood sugar level of type 2 diabetes - a major disease that causes enormous health and financial burden to Australia and many other countries,” he said.
Over consumption of carbohydrates is an important risk factor that damages the effectiveness of insulin in the liver.
“Our research revealed this is triggered by stress at the cellular level due to the suppression of a recycling mechanism called autophagy which clears off dysfunctional proteins and lipids in cells.”
Ye said his team’s preliminary work has identified a potential role for a particular protein which is able to restore this recycling function.
“This project will investigate how this protein can be targeted for the prevention or treatment of the liver's failure to respond to insulin by relieving the endoplasmic reticulum stress,” he said.
“The findings will also provide a scientific basis for exploring this protein as a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and associated metabolic disorders."
An estimated 74 Victorians develop diabetes every day, adding to the more than 300,000 in the state living with diabetes.
Most of them develop type 2 diabetes, which is associated with a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.
In the lead-up to World Diabetes Day on 14 November, Diabetes Victoria CEO Craig Bennett said the wonderful generosity of Australians had made it possible for the organisation to provide $3.9 million in funding for diabetes research.
“Every dollar donated ensures more vital research is undertaken. Each one may hold the key to that next development,” Bennett said.
“Researchers awarded these 2016 Diabetes Australia grants are doing timely and important work in Australia right now, given that diabetes is on track to become the number one burden of disease in this country within the next few years.”
The Diabetes Australia Research Program has helped fund the prevention, management and cure of diabetes since 1987, along with enabling and fostering young and upcoming researchers in diabetes research.
In 2016, the national program will provide funding for 54 General Grants, with 23 of those from Victoria.
Story: Greg Thom