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Significant funding for type 1 diabetes research

Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England have received funding of $480,000 from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the worlds largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research, to study a unique collection of pathology samples from people who died soon after diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.

The aim of the research, which will use around 70 samples collected by Dr Alan Foulis, a pathologist from Glasgow, is to identify the triggers that cause Type 1 diabetes and the sequence of events that lead to the first symptoms.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce its own insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which strikes in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, but lasts a lifetime. It accounts for between five per cent and 15 per cent of all people with diabetes. It also requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump. Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.

The research will cover new ground by seeking to identify what it is that initiates the process in man, and will consider the possibility that Type 1 diabetes could be triggered by environmental factors such as certain viruses. It will also map the progression of the disease in relation to the immune system and will seek to establish if there is a defined sequence of events, and why this is so.

Professor Noel Morgan from the Peninsula Medical School commented: This is very exciting research which can be expected to provide new insights into the causes of diabetes. If we can identify the triggers that set Type 1 diabetes into motion, and the sequence of events that lead to symptoms, there is potential for the development of therapies to prevent or halt the disease.

He added: The process can start as long as five years before the first symptoms appear. If we can understand what it is that goes on in this period, it could provide a window of opportunity for us to develop therapies and treatments to stop it.

The funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will be used to support a post-doctorate researcher and a graduate student researcher for three years. The research will be based at the Peninsula Medical School but the team also includes collaborators from Glasgow and the School of Pharmacy & Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton.

Said Professor Morgan: We are very grateful to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for this grant. The outcomes of our research could well have a fundamental effect on the prevention and treatment of Type 1 diabetes in the future.

Diabetes affects 2.3 million people in the UK, and 20.8 million in the USA. In the UK, a further 750,000 people may have the disease without knowing it in the USA this figure is 6.2 million.


Contact: Andrew Gould
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

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