Public Release: 

Diabetes UK commits £2.6 million to new research

University of Warwick is one of the recepients of funding

University of Warwick

  • New funding will be split between 14 new research projects and five new PhD grants
  • New research includes projects investigating whether medieval remedies can be used to treat foot ulcers, and if sleep disturbances can predict Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes UK has committed to invest £2.6 million in 19 brand new projects which aim to make life-changing improvements in diabetes care, and reduce people's risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The funding will be given to projects looking into Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. In one of these projects, Dr Freya Harrison, from the University of Warwick, will be using medieval remedies to find new sources of antibiotics. She has already discovered a combination that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the lab. Dr Harrison will study this remedy further to investigate how it works and if it could be used to treat infected foot ulcers in the future.

There are more than 20 leg, foot and toe amputations each day due to diabetes, four out of five of which could be prevented. This research hopes to reduce the number of diabetes-related amputations and cases of sepsis, by treating foot ulcer infections more effectively.

Dr Martin Rutter, from the University of Manchester, has also been awarded Diabetes UK funding to find out if sleep problems can help predict who might be at risk of Type 2 diabetes. He will also look at whether sleep patterns in people with Type 2 diabetes can affect their blood glucose control, and their risk of serious diabetes-related complications, such as amputation, heart disease and blindness.

He hopes this research could help to better identify people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, so they can be supported to lower their risk. It could also potentially open up new ways to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition and reduce their risk of complications.

Diabetes UK has been funding research for more than 80 years, leading to landmark discoveries which have transformed the lives of millions of people with diabetes. As the leading charitable funder of diabetes research in the UK, the charity continues to improve lives through pioneering research into all forms of diabetes and diabetes-related complications.

This research is now more important than ever before, as recent figures from Diabetes UK show the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has doubled over the last 20 years. Now almost 3.7 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, and 12.3 million are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Freya Harrison, at University of Warwick, said: "I am delighted to have been awarded a research grant from Diabetes UK. Diabetes foot complications can be incredibly serious and foot ulcers don't always respond well to currently available antibiotics, so there's a real need to find new ones. I hope my research will help us do this, and in the future could reduce amputations and improve the quality of people with diabetes' lives".

Dr Martin Rutter, at University of Manchester, said: "More people than ever are living with, and at high risk of developing, Type 2 diabetes. I hope this funding from Diabetes UK, focusing on sleep, will help us to find new ways to prevent people from getting Type 2 diabetes, and improve the health of those with the condition."

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: "Our research funding has been behind some of the greatest transformations in diabetes care over the past 80 years, but we recognise there is still a great deal to do. That's why we continue to invest in high quality diabetes research year on year.

"We hope that these new projects will help us to keep improving lives by finding better treatments, preventing diabetes complications and supporting people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. This continued investment in new research has only been possible thanks to our generous supporters, donors and members."

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For more information about Diabetes UK's research, please visit https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Research

For more information, contact Nicola Jones, Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick 07920531221 or N.Jones.1@warwick.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

1. Diabetes UK's aim is creating a world where diabetes can do no harm. Diabetes is the most devastating and fastest growing health crisis of our time, affecting more people than any other serious health condition in the UK - more than dementia and cancer combined. There is currently no known cure for any type of diabetes. With the right treatment, knowledge and support people living with diabetes can lead a long, full and healthy life. For more information about diabetes and the charity's work, visit http://www.diabetes.org.uk

2. Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. If not managed well, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of preventable sight loss in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of lower limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke.

3. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it's not to do with being overweight and it isn't currently preventable. It's the most common type of diabetes in children and young adults, starting suddenly and getting worse quickly. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses - taken either by injections or via an insulin pump. It is also recommended to follow a healthy diet and take regular physical activity.

4. People with Type 2 diabetes don't produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn't work properly (known as insulin resistance). About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2. They might get Type 2 diabetes because of their family history, age and ethnic background puts them at increased risk. They are also more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight. It starts gradually, usually later in life, and it can be years before they realise they have it. Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition, tablets and/or insulin can be required.

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