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Funded Research

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  • 2017

    Pregnancy outcomes in women diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus in childhood: a national population-based study

    Recipient: Dr Lowri Phillips
    Institution: Cardiff University
    City: Cardiff
    Funding Type: Pump Priming
    Amount: £9,089
    Description: Pregnancy in women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) is associated with an increased risk of problems, especially if blood sugar levels are not well controlled before and during pregnancy. Blood sugar control is often poor during teenage years, putting teenage and young adult pregnancies at particular risk. The Brecon Register contains data regarding all women diagnosed with T1D before the age of 15 in Wales, since 1995. We will use anonymised data from this register and other national healthcare registers, to establish the number of pregnancies and pregnancy complications that have occurred in women in Wales with T1D diagnosed in childhood, compared with non-diabetic women. We will define how the age of the mother, and time from diagnosis prior to pregnancy, affects pregnancy outcomes. Ultimately, we hope to use this information to understand which patients with T1D might have better pregnancy outcomes if treated with new immune therapy treatments, which maintain the body’s own ability to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar levels in the first years after diagnosis.
  • 2017

    Reprogramming Diabetic Foot Ulcers to Heal

    Recipient: Dr Ben Almquist
    Institution: Imperial College London
    City: London
    Funding Type: Pump Priming
    Amount: £20,000
    Description: Diabetic ulcers (DFUs) are a far too common complication of diabetes. Many times these wounds are unable to heal because there are changes in how cells respond to the instructions to repair damaged tissue. This research aims to understand how small molecules called microRNAs (essentially one form of a cells version of computer code), work together to alter how cells respond to external signals from their environment, and their potential use as a therapeutic. These microRNAs are unique because they work similar to a conductor in an orchestra, finely tuning and co-ordinating many players in the machinery that interprets how cells respond to stimuli. The hypothesis of this work is that these microRNAs, when combined with each other, provide therapeutic benefits that exceed their individual contributions. Due to the fact that many times cells within DFUs display changes to the way they respond to instructions to repair damaged tissue, microRNAs present a potentially powerful strategy for altering their behaviour and promoting timely wound repair.
  • 2017

    Role of adipose tissue ECM-integrin signalling in inflammation and insulin resistance

    Recipient: Dr Li Kang
    Institution: University of Dundee
    City: Dundee
    Funding Type: Pump Priming
    Amount: £19,859
    Description: Cells use glucose as fuel and the hormone insulin increases their use and removal of glucose from the blood. In Type 2 diabetes, cells do not respond normally to insulin and this causes increased blood glucose levels. We aim to develop a completely new way of improving cells response to insulin in people with diabetes. Up to now, work in this area has focused on studying how insulin affects mechanisms INSIDE cells. What makes our work different and exciting is that we study molecules OUTSIDE cells, the levels of which are increased when cells stop responding properly to insulin. This outside structural change is detected by proteins on the cell surface and so alters how insulin works. In this project, we will study a pathway that we believe is key to connecting the outside structural molecules to the cells response to insulin and so glucose removal from blood in fat tissues. We hope to develop these exciting results into new ideas for drugs for the benefit of people with diabetes.
  • 2017

    The role of microRNAs in transducing the programming actions of maternal obesity on beta-cell dysfunction in the offspring and exploring their use as biomarkers

    Recipient: Dr Lisa Nicholas
    Institution: University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital
    City: Cambridge
    Funding Type: Pump Priming
    Amount: £19,860
    Description: The current global epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been partly fuelled by the propagation of these diseases from parent to child across one or more generations. T2D develops when the function of insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas is impaired. Very few studies, however, have investigated underlying mechanisms within these cells that may explain transmission of T2D from mother to child. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the role of epigenetics, which is the study of biological mechanisms that establish and maintain whether genes are switched on or off, in the development of T2D. This is largely due to the fact that unlike the genome of an individual, which is largely stable, the epigenome can be reversibly modified by exposure to nutritional and environmental factors e.g. obesity. The aim of this project is, therefore, to determine the impact of maternal obesity on the transmission of T2D risk to the offspring and to characterise epigenetic changes that may provide a mechanism for this event.
  • 2016

    A comparison of the acute impact of high-intensity interval training (HIT), reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) and moderate-intensity continuous aerobic exercise (MICE) on free-living glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes

    Recipient: Dr Richard Metcalfe
    Institution: Ulster University
    City: Ulster
    Funding Type: Pump Priming
    Amount: £12,260
    Description: This research aims to determine whether a genuinely time-efficient exercise intervention is effective at improving the control of blood glucose in people with T2D. The exercise is based on high-intensity interval training (HIT), which utilises short bursts of vigorous exercise interspersed with periods of rest, but we have substantially reduced the number and length of the exercise intervals. Our protocol consists of 10-min of low intensity cycling with just two 20-second sprints in each session. Based on our previous work, this exercise mode is associated with low levels of exertion and fatigue, but is still effective at improving insulin function in sedentary men. However, it is not known if this type of exercise could improve blood glucose control in patients with T2D. We will: 1) investigate the effectiveness of this exercise to improve 24-hour glucose control; 2) compare the effects of this exercise mode with current exercise recommendations and another form of HIT; and 3) ask participants their perceptions of exertion, fatigue and enjoyment with each exercise mode