Type 2 diabetic complications study

La Trobe University and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute will spearhead one of the world’s first population-based studies to advance understanding of the progression of diabetic complications in people with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers will recruit 1500 adults across metropolitan and regional Victoria with type 2 diabetes over the coming two years as part of the $2 million study.

Together with collaborators from Monash University, Centre for Eye Research Australia and Deakin University, they will continue to study these participants for the next five to 10 years to track the development of any complications of their diabetes.

La Trobe Adjunct Professor and diabetes expert at the Baker Institute, Professor Jonathan Shaw, said the study aimed to gain a better understanding of what drives the development of diabetic complications in some people and not others.

“The study will examine biological, behavioural and psychological aspects in people with type 2 diabetes,” Professor Shaw said.

“This will include looking at some of the newest, cutting-edge measurements in blood tests; adherence to medication and lifestyle modification; as well as stress, anxiety and depression to ascertain what factors might impact the development of complications.

Professor Shaw said he was unaware of any other studies having taken a population-based approach to understand diabetes complications, whereby study participants are representative of the full spectrum of people with type 2 diabetes.

In addition to participants being followed up every two years, researchers will utilise registries and databases to explore issues such as mortality rates and to determine which patients are filling drug prescriptions to give them an indication of treatment adherence.

Researchers hope that the study will lead to new ways of treating diabetes, with the findings to assist in directing resources, such as new medications, to those who are identified early as being at risk.

The study will also examine some less well-known complications of diabetes.

“In addition to looking at classical complications of diabetes such as eye, heart and kidney disease, the study will also examine complications that can greatly impact a person’s independence such as cognitive impairment and physical disabilities,” Professor Shaw said.

La Trobe public health expert Professor Rachel Huxley said it was critical to be able to predict the risk of complications in people with type 2 diabetes.

“Predicting risk will help clinicians to improve patients’ quality of life and will inform future prevention and treatment strategies.”

This study is an important follow-up to the well-known AusDiab Study, which involved 11,000 Australians being tested by the Baker Institute over a 12-year period. The AusDiab study was the first national Australian longitudinal population-based study to examine the prevalence and incidence of diabetes and its complications, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.

Baker Institute Director, Professor Tom Marwick said this seminal study into diabetes complications signalled the start of an important relationship between La Trobe University and the Baker Institute, drawing on the University’s disciplinary strengths in allied health, rural nursing and cardiovascular research together with the Institute’s leading research into cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

La Trobe’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Keith Nugent said the University was delighted to be collaborating with the Baker Institute to undertake significant research that aims to tackle one of Australia’s biggest medical challenges.

Victorians with type 2 diabetes can get involved in this study here

Media Contacts:

Anastasia Salamastrakis, La Trobe, 0428 195 464, A.Salamastrakis@latrobe.edu.au

Tracey Ellis, the Baker Institute, 0433 781 972, tracey.ellis@baker.edu.au

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