Dr Herat and her team have secured funding to investigate if a new type of medication used to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes may also help reduce health complications in type 1 diabetes.  The $60,000 research grant will be used to study the effects of sotagliflozin – which inhibits two proteins, SGLT1 and SGLT2 – in type 1 diabetes.  The researchers believe the medication may provide superior protection to the heart and kidneys, with diabetes a leading cause of end-stage kidney and cardiovascular disease.

December 1, 2022
Media Statement

Nearly two years to the day since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Victoria Park’s Thomas Haughey took to the ground at Mineral Resources Park to meet premiership-winning West Coast Eagles forward Jamie Cripps, who also has the incurable condition.

In the lead up to Christmas in 2020, Thomas spent a week in hospital after falling seriously ill with diabetic ketoacidosis due to his then-undiagnosed diabetes.

Since then, the sporty 12-year-old and his family have been on a steep learning curve to manage the autoimmune condition, which requires constant vigilant monitoring.

Still, the Victoria Park Junior Football Club player hasn’t let the diagnosis hold him back and when the opportunity came to take part in Mineral Resources’ Fun Footy Clinic for kids with diabetes, held by Diabetes Research WA this week, he jumped at it.

“One of the first things I did when I was diagnosed was searched up which famous sports stars have type 1 diabetes, so meeting Crippa, finding out about his AFL career and learning from him was a great experience,” explained Thomas.

Says Thomas’ mum, Kelly: “Thomas has been amazing since he was told the news about his diabetes; he was back at cricket training within a few weeks of diagnosis but opportunities like this footy clinic are still important and can have a big, positive impact.”

Dozens of other WA children with type 1 diabetes took part in the event supported by a raft of Eagles and AFLW players.

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said Jamie’s AFL success had inspired many people with diabetes.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Jamie, the other players and our sponsors and supporters for making this footy clinic a reality because we never know just how far the ripples of such wonderful events will travel for these children,” she said.

Event sponsors and supporters included Mineral Resources, Dinner Twist, Burley Sekem, IGA East Victoria Park and the Telethon Kids Institute.

Diabetes Research WA receives no government funding, making community and corporate donations critical.

Visit diabetesresearchwa.com.au to support its grants program which funds groundbreaking WA diabetes research.

Contact: Natalie Caudle, natalie@capturemedia.com.au, 0407 984 435

November 15, 2022
Media Statement

West Australian diabetes researchers are set to investigate if a new medication helping people with
type 2 diabetes may also reduce health complications linked to type 1 diabetes.
Dr Lakshini Herat has won a $60,000 grant from Perth-based charity Diabetes Research WA to study
the effects of Sotagliflozin in type 1 diabetes.

Dr Herat, from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences and the Dobney Hypertension Centre, said
Sotagliflozin was already being used in clinical trials to successfully lower blood glucose levels in
people with type 2 diabetes.

“This medication is one of a relatively new class of so-called ‘wonder drugs’ known as SGLT1/2
inhibitors which are helping to protect the heart and kidneys in type 2 diabetes by suppressing the
proteins in the body known as SGLT1 and SGLT2,” she said.
“Our team has recently discovered, however, that when SGLT2 is blocked, it leads to an increase
of the SGLT1 protein in the kidney, possibly limiting the effectiveness of the SGLT2 only inhibiting

Dr Herat said as Sotagliflozin was known to reduce the expression of both SGLT1 and SGLT2, it
could be a powerful new way to help those with type 1 diabetes, as well as type 2.
“SGLT2 inhibitors are so far not being used in type 1 diabetes due to concerns over the risk of diabetic
ketoacidosis, so more needs to be known about how Sotagliflozin works in the body before it can be
prescribed,” she explained.

“This research hopes to reveal more insight into the mechanisms of Sotagliflozin and investigate if it
may provide superior protection to the heart and kidneys for those with both types of diabetes.”
Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said she was grateful to the organisation’s
generous donors for supporting homegrown research projects with global potential.

“As diabetes is a leading cause of end-stage kidney and cardiovascular disease, this work holds
enormous promise to reduce the negative health complications of this chronic, increasingly common
condition,” she said.

“We are thrilled Dr Herat and team are able to advance this important research thanks to our many
passionate supporters.”

Contact: Natalie Caudle, natalie@capturemedia.com.au, 0407 984 435

We are thrilled to announce our 2022 World Diabetes Day Discoveries Breakfast is taking place on Monday November 14.

The event is happening in Wembley, Western Australia from 7.30am and we’d love to see you there!

You will hear from the Telethon Kids Institute’s Dr Aveni Haynes who will provide an update on her ground-breaking type 1 diabetes research trial.

The project is using continuous glucose monitoring to measure blood sugar levels in children at high-risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but who are not yet showing clinical signs of the condition.

The project aims to glean information that could be used in future research aimed at reversing, delaying or slowing the progression of these children developing symptomatic or clinical type 1 diabetes.

We will also reveal the details of our newly funded 2023 Research Project as we unveil the winner of our annual $60,000 Research Grant.

This once-a-year event is a wonderful opportunity to chat with local scientists, researchers and community members with a shared interest in all things diabetes-related.

The World Diabetes Day Discoveries Breakfast is FREE to attend but registering is essential.

Reserve your FREE ticket HERE now!

June 29, 2022:   Media Statement


***APPLICATIONS HAVE NOW CLOSED : The winner will be announced at our WDD event on November 14, 2022.***

West Australian researchers are being offered the chance to secure a $60,000 grant to channel into
a diabetes-related research project.

With National Diabetes Week coming up from July 11 to 16, Diabetes Research WA has released
details of its annual grants program for 2023.
The charity, which runs solely on the generosity of its donors, is offering one $60,000 research grant
to West Australian based medical researchers, but more than one grant may be offered, should
circumstances justify.

The winner will be announced around World Diabetes Day on November 14 and application details
can be found at diabetesresearchwa.com.au/research-grant-program(.)
Submissions close on August 15, 2022.

Contact: Natalie Caudle, natalie@capturemedia.com.au, 0407 984 435

New West Australian research has discovered that a single gene change may be putting people at increased risk of insulin resistance and fatty liver disease by changing calcium levels within energy-producing machines in our cells.

The research by University of WA Professor Aleksandra Filipovska, supported by a $60,000 grant from Diabetes Research WA, found the common variation of a gene changed energy metabolism in cells.

“Our study revealed that this single gene change lowered insulin release on a high-fat diet,” explained Professor Filipovska, who is also the head of the Mitochondrial Medicine and Biology laboratory at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

“This reduced insulin secretion resulted in lower insulin levels, contributing to imbalanced metabolism and liver steatosis, also known as fatty liver disease.

“These findings, published in the prestigious journal, Science Advances, reveal this gene variant may be a predisposing factor to insulin resistance and metabolic disease, including type 2 diabetes.”

The group now hopes to test how specific diets and exercise regimens may affect this single gene change.

“As this gene variation is common it would be incredibly powerful to pinpoint how we may target it to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes by altering our nutrition and energy usage,” explained Professor Filipovska.

“We also hope we can use this new knowledge of the molecular mechanisms linked to this gene change to look for new pharmaceutical interventions to delay insulin resistance.”

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said: “Type 2 diabetes has an enormous impact on the health of so many and places a significant burden on families and workplaces so it’s essential we look at all avenues to tackle it.”

Professor Oliver Rackham from Curtin University, Dr Stefan Siira and Judith Ermer, both from The University of WA, are also part of the research team.

Read the publication:

Media contact: Natalie Caudle, 0407 984 435, natalie@capturemedia.com.au

Dr Mary Abraham from the Telethon Kids Institute and Perth Children’s Hospital has secured $60,000 from our 2022 Diabetes Research Grants program to launch a pilot study into the use of oral insulin in type 1 diabetes – a medication intervention that could be a game-changer for those with the chronic condition.

Oral insulin had so far predominantly been tested in those with type 2 diabetes while insulin injections or insulin pump therapy are the cornerstone of type 1 diabetes treatment but still, most people remain unable to achieve optimal blood glucose levels, so there’s a very real need to improve on treatment.

Oral insulin has enormous benefits of being a non-invasive form of insulin and offers the hope of reducing the risk of blood sugar levels falling dangerously low in people with diabetes, and it may also help to minimise weight gain that can be an issue with subcutaneous insulin because it causes high insulin levels in the body. It is also believed oral insulin may reduce the long-term risk of diabetes-related vascular complications, as well as possibly restore beta cell function.

This 12-week study aimed to see if oral insulin could be used alongside injected insulin. The success of oral insulin has so far been limited due to absorption issues. This trial of an improved oral drug delivery system has been designed to overcome this challenge. If it can be used to reduce the amount of insulin that needs to be injected by people with type 1 diabetes or mean they require less total insulin, this would be a very welcome breakthrough.

$60,000 has been awarded for a project investigating a new way to tackle disease-inducing chronic inflammation linked to type 2 diabetes.

Professor Pfleger and Dr Elizabeth Johnstone and the Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology Laboratory team at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with colleagues at Monash University, hope to reduce health complications of type 2 diabetes by blocking a newly-discovered pathway.

Inflammation is increased in type 2 diabetes and we’ve found this pathway effectively stokes the fires of inflammation in the body, making it burn more fiercely, increasing the risk of it getting out of control and causing collateral health damage.

The group has found that key proteins on the surface of cells involved in chronic inflammation – known as Immunoglobulin-like Cell Adhesion Molecules – are turned on by a process called transactivation when other G protein-coupled receptor molecules on the cell surface are themselves turned on. They aim is to develop smart inhibitors of this pathway in order to keep inflammation under control and, in doing so, treat and prevent type 2 diabetes complications, such as atherosclerosis – which is the formation of fatty deposits in arteries – and kidney disease.

This new funding will support research into the underlying molecular mechanisms driving this transactivation process and test peptides that modulate the pathway, to expand the number of potential type 2 diabetes drug targets.

Additionally, the work will involve use of BRET – bioluminescence resonance energy transfer – technology, which Professor Pfleger’s laboratory is a world-leader in using to study protein-protein interactions.

West Australian scientists have secured new funding to explore a discovery that could reduce cases of type 2 diabetes linked to the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medications.

The team of Curtin University researchers, led by Professor Fergal O’Gara, has found that, in mice, statins drive changes in the body’s gut bacteria, which can trigger the development of type 2 diabetes.

Independent studies have reported up to a 12 percent increase of new type 2 diabetes cases among patients taking statins but – until now – the cause has been a mystery.

“Our work found for the first-time profound changes in the microbial composition of the gut following statin treatment and many mice experienced higher fasting blood glucose levels and weight gain,” said Professor O’Gara.

“We discovered the changes in gut bacteria were linked to the activity of a protein reception called PXR which we know is involved in lipid and glucose metabolism which are two processes that are altered in type 2 diabetes.”

Professor O’Gara said his team would use a new $80,000 grant from Diabetes Research WA, the state’s peak diabetes research funding group, to look into how the intestinal bacteria affect PXR’s activity during statin use.

“As part of this research, we’ll also investigate ways to prevent these negative effects which may ultimately mean people take another probiotic-style medication to counteract the impact of the statin,” he explained.

“We are very excited about this work because we believe not factoring in the gut has been the missing piece of the puzzle in regards type 2 diabetes research.”

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said with statins in common use in Australia amongst those with or at high risk of cardiovascular disease and rising rates of type 2 diabetes impacting families across the country, it was important research such as this was supported.

“This work also has the potential to reduce not only cases of statin-induced type 2 diabetes but type 2 rates on the whole by understanding more about the PXR protein and its relationship with the cell factory in the gut,” she said.

The first phase of the team’s research has been published* in the Microbiome journal.

They are now recruiting West Australians with pre-diabetes for a trial as part of this research.

A new grant unveiled by WA’s peak diabetes research funding group aims to help further pave the way for the early detection of diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults globally.

Diabetes Research WA has awarded $80,000 to the work of Professor Yogi Kanagasingam, telehealth research director at CSIRO’s Australian e-Health Research Centre, to help fund the next development phase of a world-first artificial intelligence-based screening system.

Once implemented, the technology will enable GPs to include eye-screening as part of their standard disease management programs, detecting people with diabetic retinopathy at high accuracy and removing the need to refer patients without the disease.

“At the moment only ophthalmologists and optometrists can test for the condition so patients often sit on waitlists or need to travel long distances to be assessed,” said Professor Kanagasingam.

“This means patients often do not get the test during the early detection window, which can cause irreversible loss of sight.

“The current regime is also costly because some patients are found to not have the condition, but have been on the waiting list, so this technology is poised to be a game-changer.”

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye are damaged as a result of diabetes.

Professor Kanagasingam said he and his team were thrilled to win the Diabetes Research WA grant to help them further develop the technology.

“An initial trial at the GP Superclinic at Midland Railway Workshops revealed GP screening using this technology was as effective as a specialist in detecting signs of diabetic retinopathy and grading its severity,” he said.

“It’s incredibly exciting that patients will soon be able to get comprehensive diabetes care all in one place.”

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said the charity was pleased to be supporting such an important project.

“Worldwide, the number of people with diabetic retinopathy is tipped to hit 191 million by 2030 so there is so much need for technology like this; it can potentially mean the difference between someone going blind or not which obviously has a huge impact on a person’s life,” she said.

The project involves ophthalmologist Prof Mei-Ling Tay-Kearney from Royal Perth Hospital and USbased firm TeleMedC has licensed the software with a view to commercialising the technology beginning with GP clinics in Australia and Singapore.