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Mater Research Professor Josephine Forbes has been awarded a research grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in partnership with Yale University seeking to find prevention therapies for type 1 diabetes.
The research aims to give doctors a simple medication which can be used to treat individuals who have been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and prevent the disease occurring in people who are identified as being at risk.
“We have already made key discoveries as to how individuals develop the disease which has enabled us to begin this process,” Professor Forbes explained.
“Our research has demonstrated that a particular combination of genetic and environmental factors can lead to individuals contracting type 1 diabetes.”
In partnership with Yale University Professor of Immunobiology and Medicine Kevan Herold, Professor Forbes will begin phase one of her research by performing specific clinical safety studies in a laboratory.
“We predict that after the completion of these studies, we will have a lead medicine which we can immediately begin testing in newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in clinical trials,” she said.
At the end of the clinical trials, Professor Forbes envisages that her team will have an oral medication which can be used for type one1 prevention and treatment in newly diagnosed individuals.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common incurable, early onset, chronic disease and despite comprising only 10 per cent of cases in the developed world globally, it makes up 40 per cent of diabetes costs in healthcare budgets and incidence is rising.
“Currently there are no therapies available to prevent or treat the disease and it has significant annual healthcare costs in excess of $570 million nationally,” she said.
“It’s an auto-immune disease where patients require lifelong insulin replacement and have significantly increased risk for heart disease, blindness and kidney failure and mental health issues.”
Professor Forbes stated even slowing down how quickly the disease develops would be a step in the right direction as the longer an individual has the disease the more likely they are to suffer the negative health outcomes from it.
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