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- Laboratory Heads
Current research projects
Diabetes research at Perkins aims to understand diabetes and its complications in order to develop new treatments. We aim for scientific excellence with the goal of developing clinically relevant outcomes to treat diabetes and its complications. Our area of expertise is understanding the genetic basis of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) while we are developing several new initiatives.
Genetics of Type 1 Diabetes
In order to understand why some people develop Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), and to develop targeted preventative treatments, genetic risk factors must first be identified. We have four major projects which address this problem. We have established the Australian Childhood Diabetes DNA Repository (ACDDR); we are part of the international Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium (T1DGC); we are undertaking world-first studies in Systems Genetics of diabetes; we are looking into identifying 'molecular signatures' of Type 1 Diabetes; and we have produced mouse models which are protected from developing diabetes by introduction of genes from diabetes resistant strains.
Beta Cell Development and Regeneration Program
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the autoimmune destruction of cells in the pancreas (insulin-secreting islet beta (β) cells). The best prospect for a cure is to transplant islets or to regenerate these β cells. To regenerate cells, we can use pancreatic stem cells (pancreatic progenitor/stem cells (PPSCs)). However, the poor availability of donor islets and problems with the process of (re)generating β cells, either in the lab or in the body, have hampered the ability to use this technology in the doctor's clinic. The Beta Cell Development and Regeneration Program within the Centre for Diabetes Research was established in 2007 under Senior Research Fellow Dr Fang-Xu Jiang.
Genetics of Type 2 Diabetes
The CDR is also researching the genetics of Type 2 diabetes. International collaborations have resulted in the identification of a candidate gene for Type 2 diabetes.
Due to the rising health costs associated with complications due to diabetes, the Centre began research on diabetic nephropathy. This disease results in end-stage renal failure which is a huge cost to the Australian health system.
The project team has also worked in collaborations looking into the genetics of Motor Neuron Disease and melanoma.