$8.25 million for world-first diabetes study

$8.25 million for world-first diabetes study

Illuminate newsletter index page, March 2020
March 2020

Sofie (right) and her daughter Audrey are participants in
the ENDIA study. Photo credit: Sofie Boston

The world’s first study tracking children’s diabetes risk in early life to identify the causes of type 1 diabetes has received an $8.25 million funding boost from JDRF Australia and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Called ENDIA, the Australian-based study follows women and their babies from early pregnancy through early life with the aim of discovering potential preventions for type 1 diabetes – a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Critical funding

Recruitment for the study recently reached its target of 1500 participants. Study co-lead Professor Len Harrison, who has been studying diabetes for almost 40 years, said the new funding would enable researchers to follow-up this cohort for a further three years.

“Funding for follow-up of children is critical so we can optimise the collection of samples for ‘omics’ studies from children who develop diabetes or other childhood diseases such as coeliac disease,” Professor Harrison said.

Professor Len Harrison
Professor Len Harrison has been studying diabetes for
almost 40 years.

The ENDIA study has already uncovered that children who develop type 1 diabetes are deficient in specific gut bacteria and, more recently, that certain viruses are common in women with type 1 diabetes during pregnancy and in infants who are at risk of developing the disease.

Professor Harrison said the rapid progress of the ENDIA study showed the power of well-designed studies from early life to understand how the environment and genes interact leading to childhood diseases.

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