RAGE against diabetes

• Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger and researcher Rekhati Abhayawardana with Diabetes Research executive director Sherl Westlund. Photosupplied

EVERY five minutes another Australian develops diabetes.

More than 1.7 million Aussies have the chronic disease and it’s estimated another half a million are undiagnosed.

But there are hopes that understanding a molecule known as “RAGE” could help control the effects of the disease. Diabetes Research WA has received a $60,000 grant to research the molecule.

Associate professor Kevin Pfleger is leading a Perth-based team.

“As RAGE is only present when cells are in this injured or stressed mode–which happens in type 2 diabetes–it’s a key target that we believe we can hone in to possibly prevent and definitely use to help fight the health effects of this condition,” he says.

“With our collaborators we’ve discovered a new way in which this molecule is activated, triggering a cascade of signalling in cells that leads to inflammation and cell injury. “We’ve found a way to inhibit this process which should, in turn, limit the complications of type 2 developing, so it’s incredibly exciting”

People who could benefit from the research include WA mum Janette Lano, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after falling pregnant seven years ago.

“I was lucky that my type 2 diabetes was picked up and able to be managed so I could have a baby but there’s still so much more that needs to be done to help tackle the condition and ward off its complications which I do sometimes worry about developing,” she says.

“This research is very important in particular for me because being of South Asian descent puts me at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So having new and better ways to avoid health issues it can lead to would be amazing”

by CHARLIE BRAY

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