7 Dec 2019

Smart nanomaterials to revolutionise insulin delivery for diabetes

Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer
by Anne Crawford

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), a disease with no cure, currently affects more than 120,000 Australians.

People with T1D are dependent on insulin, a hormone, to help keep their blood-sugar levels from skyrocketing which can lead to long-term complications such as kidney and heart diseases responsible for significant morbidity and mortality.

However, if too much insulin is injected, sugar levels become dangerously low, called hypoglycaemia, resulting in coma or death.

Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer, a research group leader in the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD), has been granted $944,796 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to further research that is generating smart nanoparticles that automatically regulate the optimal amount of insulin available to the body.
Such targeted glucose-responsive insulin would eliminate major risks associated with diabetes. It would free patients from having to take multi-daily glucose measurements and from insulin injections.

“Glucose lowering without the risk of hypoglycaemia would revolutionise the management
of type 1 and possibly type 2 diabetes,” A/Prof Hagemeyer said. “This could be the biggest advance in the field since the discovery of insulin.”

Associate Professor Hagemeyer is working with a team of accomplished experts to further develop the particle system towards clinical use.

Dr Francesca Cavalieri, RMIT University, is CIB. Associate Investigators are Professor Mark Cooper (Head of the Department of Diabetes, Central Clinical School), Associate Professor Terri Allen (Department of Diabetes, Central Clinical School), Professor Frank Caruso and Dr John Karas (both University of Melbourne).

If successful, the studies could lead to clinical trials for better glucose control, eliminating diabetic complications, saving lives, reducing health care costs and improving quality of life for diabetic patients, A/Prof Hagemeyer said.

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