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An estimated 415 million people worldwide have diabetes, with 46% of people with diabetes being undiagnosed – and these numbers are surging.

The global problem

Diabetes requires daily management and can have a significant impact on quality of life and health, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Over 70% of people with diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease.

In people with diabetes, the body cannot maintain healthy blood glucose levels – insulin, the hormone which regulates these levels, is no longer produced or is not produced in sufficient amounts by the body.

The current treatment algorithm for T2D is a stepwise, trial-and-error approach. The first drug on a long list of therapies is tried, and if that is ineffective, drugs are trialled down the list until an effective treatment is reached for each individual.

The primary cause of T2D is insulin resistance, and the liver and skeletal muscle are the major drivers of this resistance. As each T2D therapy targets muscle or liver insulin resistance to varying degrees, and each individual case of diabetes is different, effective treatment for each case is delayed until a suitable drug on the list is reached. This delay could last from weeks to months.

To fight the rising tide of diabetes and pre-diabetes, it is clear that tools to better target therapeutics and diagnose T2D are needed.

Our solution

Through a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, we have made a world-first discovery of blood biomarkers – indicators of a specific trait – that can distinguish between liver and muscle insulin resistance.

These biomarkers could guide T2D therapy and ensure that the appropriate drugs are used to target the organ driving insulin resistance. In addition to this precision medicine approach, these biomarkers have revealed processes in the body which could potentially be targeted in the development of new treatments.

The next step

We plan to conduct a clinical trial to investigate the advantages of our biomarker-guided T2D therapy versus conventional therapy. We also plan to explore the underlying mechanisms of these biomarkers and test their effectiveness as new targets for treatment.

We seek funding to support these next steps.

  • Clinical trial of biomarker-guided therapy (over three years)
    • Operation of clinical trial: $1,000,000
    • Salary of post-doctoral scientist: $100,000/year
    • Salary of research assistant: $80,000/year
  • Explore mechanism of biomarkers to determine drug targets
    • Primary human and mouse liver cell model: $50,000
    • Skeletal muscle cell model system: $50,000
    • Pre-clinical mammalian model: $100,000
    • Chemical standards: $20,000
    • Consumables: $10,000

The outcome

With the successful completion of the next step in our research, we could:

  1. Significantly improve health and quality of life for people with T2D by determining a new and more precise way to treat T2D, in addition to enabling earlier, more effective therapy.
  2. Relieve the financial burden on stretched healthcare services by enabling prescription of the best drug for each individual in the first instance.
  3. Prevent side effects from unnecessary treatments that are not suited to the individual with T2D.
  4. Diagnose T2D in people who are unaware of their condition, giving them the vital chance to access treatment and change their lifestyle to improve their health.
  5. Better understand the mechanisms underlying the development of T2D, paving the way for further research into the prevention strategies and cures of the future.
  6. Discover new therapy targets for T2D to develop a better, wider range of treatment options

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Our scientists rely on generous and far-sighted supporters to continue their vital research into cardiovascular disease – the world’s number one killer.

As a patron of science at the Heart Research Institute, you can directly support the research project closest to your heart, with your full donation going towards the project. You will also have the opportunity to attend exclusive events with our scientists and leadership team, and will receive regular updates on how your support has helped your research project break new ground.

For more information on how you can contribute to this exciting project, contact our Head of Philanthropy through the links below.

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