A researcher from Menai is working towards what entirely seems a realistic possibility – cure type 1 diabetes.
Kirstine Bell is among the first graduates of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF Australia) Future Research Leaders Program, designed to support medical researchers to develop their leadership skills and innovations out of the laboratory and into practice.
The group has secured funding from the Australian Research Council to examine a dietary supplement that could stop type 1 diabetes.
Dr Bell will be among those who will study a modified starch and its potential role in preventing and treating the condition in humans for the first time, following successful outcomes in mice.
This is the first clinical trial in the world looking to prevent type 1 diabetes via the gut microbiome using a fibre supplement.
Researchers received $350,000, supported by JDRF and the Macquarie Group Foundation, to make their vision a reality.
They hope to publish their findings in 2019, with the next step being to test if this dietary supplement can prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes.
July 8-14 is National Diabetes Week.
Dr Bell, from Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, says the research is revolutionary.
“To think that we could prevent type 1 diabetes through diet. There is currently no cure for diabetes and research here is looking at invasive transplants,” she said.
“However if we are successful, this fibre supplement could be a cheap, simple, non-invasive way to prevent the condition altogether.”
She says delaying the onset on type 1 diabetes is also crucial.
“Every day that someone doesn’t have the condition means the world in terms of their quality of life and their long-term risk of diabetes complications such as kidney disease and blindness,” she said.
“The gut microbiome is a hot topic in research at the moment.
“What we eat affects the ecosystem of good and bad bacteria in our large intestine, which in turn seems to play a big role in our health and our risk of chronic diseases, allergies and autoimmune diseases.
“It’s exciting to think of the possibilities.”