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Diabetes treatment image via Shutterstock.

Dr Hadwen Trust (DHT) announces funding to University of Exeter Medical School’s Professor Lorna Harries for diabetes research project

Diabetes is a chronic health condition, where the concentration of glucose in the blood is too high. The failure of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin can cause glucose build up in the blood, giving rise to common symptoms of diabetes such as lethargy, thirst, repeated infections and visual impairment.

An astounding 3.3 million people are diagnosed with diabetes annually in the UK which costs the NHS over £1.5 million an hour, equating to 10% of the entire NHS budget.

The Dr Hadwen Trust is the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity and the DHT is delighted to award Professor Harries, at the University of Exeter Medical School, this PhD Studentship to help work towards understanding diabetic processes further. The grant is worth £76,333.

The aim of the research is to understand the mechanisms that cause particular cells of the pancreas to lose their ability to produce insulin. New research suggests that part of the reason for this may be because these cells are, surprisingly, changing into other types of cells, contrary to previous understanding that the cells were simply dying.

Research in this field relies heavily on animal models and animal cell lines; an estimated 100,000 animals are used annually worldwide, yet many inter-species differences mean data generated in animals and their cell lines may not be relevant in humans.

Professor Harries’ team will use newly available human cells, to help identify novel targets for drug development.

Said the DHT Group Head of Science, Dr Brett Cochrane, "The DHT is, once again, extremely proud to be funding research at the University of Exeter Medical School, an excellent institution with an exemplary reputation. We are honoured to award Professor Harries and her PhD Student, Nicola Jeffery, this PhD Studentship as they further our understanding of diabetes and implement innovative human-focussed approaches to replace the use of animals in diabetes research."

Date: 17 September 2015

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