Researchers to present at leading diabetes conferences

The Diabetes Research Group from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, will be presenting their latest research at two conferences hosted by Diabetes UK.

The first presentation will take place at the Midlands Volunteering Conference on Saturday, 28th February.

The event will bring together Diabetes UK volunteers from across the region, giving them a greater insight into the studies taking place in the Midlands.

The group, led by Professor Paul Squires, will provide an overview and update on current Diabetes UK-funded research at Lincoln and join a panel discussion.

Understanding and ultimately preventing renal damage in diabetes sufferers is a key aim for the group.

Professor Paul Squires and Dr Claire Hills, also from the University of Lincoln, are carrying out research supported by project and equipment grants from Diabetes UK.

Their joint research aims to better understand the sub-cellular mechanisms that regulate how people with diabetes can end up with diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).

They are currently investigating how high glucose and an important down-stream pro-fibrotic cytokine called Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGF-beta), cause renal damage as a result of this metabolic disease.

Dr Hills said: “Understanding the mechanism by which TGF-beta evokes its effects is essential in establishing novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention or arrest of the disease.”

The group will also be presenting their research at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference at the ExCeL London on 11th to 13th March.

The conference normally attracts more than 3,000 national and international delegates and is the largest event in the UK run exclusively for healthcare professionals and scientists working in the field of diabetes.

All abstracts will be published in Diabetic Medicine 33, 2015.

Professor Squires said: “The aim of this event is to describe how Diabetes UK funding has helped our research and to explain how the work will ultimately benefit people living with the condition.”

As part of the event, Professor Squires will also be chairing a State-of-the-Art session at the meeting entitled, ‘Latest Islet Biology’, which will examine recent developments in improving insulin secretion from pancreatic islets of Langerhans and new technologies geared to transplantation therapy using engineered beta-cells. The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine (hormone-producing) cells.

Further funding for diabetes research

A team from the University of Lincoln has been awarded 80,000 Euros to develop research to help improve understanding of the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease in diabetes patients.

The European Federation for the Study of Diabetes has awarded the Janssen Kidney Award to Dr Claire Hills and Professor Paul Squires, whose joint research aims to better understand the sub-cellular mechanisms that regulate how people with diabetes can end up with diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).

As the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy is a debilitating and potentially life threatening complication of diabetes.

Every cell in the body is surrounded by a complex matrix of proteins that allows them to interact with each other and their immediate environment.

This extracellular matrix allows cells to detect survival signals in times of stress and has a crucial role in maintaining appropriate cell function. Changes to the matrix have been linked to a number of diseases, such as diabetes.

In the current study, Dr Hills and Professor Squires will examine how glucose and associated cytokines (small proteins that are important in cell signalling) reduce ‘stickiness’ between neighbouring cells of the proximal kidney and between cells and their surrounding matrix.

Dr Hills said: “Little is known about the mechanisms through which these glucose-induced detrimental effects occur, however, we believe that a loss of these interactions changes the behaviour of cells and contributes to the high level of damage seen in diabetes.”

With the help of international collaborators, biopsy material from both healthy kidneys and those obtained from patients with diabetic nephropathy will ensure that work accurately models the situation in humans.

Dr Hills added: “To identify future therapeutic targets in our fight against the increasing prevalence of this condition, we need to understand the basic mechanisms that prevent kidney cells from functioning correctly.”

The research will improve understanding of why renal function is often impaired in diabetes and will identify pathways that may alleviate and/or prevent glucose-induced damage of normal kidney function.

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