A new research grant, funded by Diabetes Australia, will help researchers explore why a sugar-coated protein found in the body helps protect against type 1 diabetes and whether this could possibly lead to a new treatment to prevent the condition.


The research, led by Dr Maria Esther Bandala-Sanchez at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), is one of 15 new grants awarded to Victoria-based researchers announced by Diabetes Australia today.


“Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition requiring constant attention. It places a huge burden on families. There is currently no cure or prevention possible for type 1 diabetes and this is our great hope – that we can contribute to a cure through supporting the best diabetes researchers,” Diabetes Australia CEO A/Professor Greg Johnson said. “This grant builds on previous research at WEHI which demonstrated that certain cells in the immune system - T cells - may protect against type 1 diabetes by releasing a sugar-coated protein called CD52. It is a long road, but hopefully this research is an important step towards a cure.”


Diabetes Australia is also funding research projects that are examining ways of improving the detection of kidney failure in people with diabetes, and getting a better understand of hypoglycaemia.

“We are excited to be able to support researchers at leading Victorian institutes including WEHI, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Monash University and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Diabetes is the single biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system and research into how we can prevent and manage the condition is critical to meeting the challenges we face.”


For many years, Diabetes Victoria has been a significant contributor to the national diabetes research funding pool. For 2017, Diabetes Victoria has contributed $1.3 million to the $3.6 million total funding pool.


“Every dollar directed towards research is important. Each research project funded may hold a vital key to that next development, helping to make a real difference,” Diabetes Victoria CEO Craig Bennett said. "I’m pleased to congratulate our 15 Victorian recipients, who are advocates of Victoria’s brilliant reputation for world class medical research."


The Diabetes Australia Research Program was established in 1987 to support and develop diabetes related research across Australia. The program provides funding towards the prevention, management and cure of all types of diabetes, as well as enabling and fostering young and upcoming researchers in the field of diabetes research. Each year outstanding research projects are selected through a merit based, competitive, peer review process.


Diabetes Australia is the national body for people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk. Diabetes Australia is committed to reducing the impact of diabetes. We work in partnership with diabetes health professionals, researchers and the community to minimise the impact of diabetes.  Diabetes Australia’s Research Program relies on the generosity and support of Australians, our member organisations, of trusts and foundations, and philanthropic donations. Any individual or organisation can support the Diabetes Australia Research Program by joining the Cure Club, a regular giving program that allows you to have a donation to diabetes research deducted automatically each month. To start a regular donation, or find out more, call 1800 800 977 or email research@diabetesaustralia.com.au