Injecting diabetes, a new diabetes clinic is opening on the coast.
Injecting diabetes, a new diabetes clinic is opening on the coast. Anthony Reginato

Diabetes world-first study to look at side effects

A WORLD-FIRST study will track 1500 Victorians over the next decade in the hope of uncovering who develops complications from type 2 diabetes and how, so treatment can be targeted earlier and new therapies can be developed.

The $2 million study, led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and La Trobe University, will look for drivers of well-known diabetic complications such as kidney and eye disease, amputation, heart attack and stroke, but also new and emerging side effects such as heart failure, cognitive function and physical disability.

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Each day 280 Australians are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and it is the leading cause of kidney failure and vision loss in people of working age.

Professor Jonathan Shaw said the study would look beyond the factors that could be detected via a blood test, and also examine the behavioural and psychological factors that could also play a part.

"We know some of the reasons why people progress to complications, such as their levels of blood sugar and cholesterol," Prof Shaw said.

Data will be collected on things like diet and lifestyle.
Data will be collected on things like diet and lifestyle.

"But the reality it's still generally hard to say who will progress quickly, and therefore should get more attention now, and who's looking pretty safe."

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Data will be collected from patients every two years capturing everything from diet, lifestyle and cognitive tests, through to medication adherence, their genetics and cholesterol levels.

Scans will be taken of the back of their eyes to study tiny blood vessels, which can show progression of eye disease but also give cues about damage in other parts of the body, such as the kidneys.

Detailed scans of the heart will be carried out, as researchers try to tease apart the causes of newly recognised complications such as increasing rates of heart failure.

Importantly, blood and urine samples will be collected and frozen to allow emerging and currently-unimagined tests to be conducted on this population over the coming years.

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The study also involves Monash University, Centre for Eye Research Australia and Deakin University.

"We're facing a tide of people with diabetes," Prof Shaw said. "If we can discover new mechanisms, that may lead to a new drug or new way of preventing a complication.

"If we can identify people at higher risk, then we can develop a tailored treatment plan."

To take part in the study go to https://baker.edu.au/research/clinical-trials/diabetes-complications



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