Revolutionary research into the early diagnosis and treatment of diabesity is taking place at a new Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine, which was officially launched today by Industry and Enterprise Minister Francis Logan.
The centre is part of the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) and was established through a three-year State Government investment of $4.5million.
It was launched along with a new WA Proteomics Research Facility, part of the Lotterywest State Biomedical Facility.
Mr Logan said diabesity was an ongoing and serious health problem in WA and the world.
“The Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine aims to use the power of plants and genetics in a bid to help tackle the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity, known as diabesity,” he said.
“Diabetes is starting to reach epidemic levels and currently affects more than 140,000 Western Australians.
“The new research aims to help to identify if someone is a likely candidate to develop diabesity and assist them in the early diagnosis and consequent treatment to assist in warding off potentially dangerous complications.
“The centre has already created a new high-protein, low-carbohydrate bread made from lupins that could also prove useful in this fight.”
WAIMR Professor and the centre’s scientific head, Peter Leedman, said there were potential biomarkers, or proteins in the blood, that could act as early warning signals that a person might be more likely to fall victim to diabesity.
“Using these proteins, new treatments may be able to be developed, and simple tests created that could accurately predict and diagnose those at risk of these diseases in a bid to slash some of the serious health problems they cause,” Professor Leedman said.
“The biomarkers may also help us predict those with diabetes who will go onto develop serious complications, such as kidney and eye disease.
“Biomarkers are being used in the cancer area, and we are keen to use them to help beat the diabetes and obesity crisis.”
Maureen Hume, who attended today’s launch, was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 1990 and successfully managed her diabetes through diet for numerous years.
“I was quite amazed at the difference changing my diet made to my diabetes, I was able to keep it in check for five years without the usual medication such as insulin,” Mrs Hume said.
“My grandmother also had diabetes, so my family definitely has a predisposition to the disease and I am concerned that my children and grandchildren may be affected.
“I would like my family to be tested so that if a biomarker is found we can do everything possible, such as changing our eating habits, to ensure this disease does not get as bad as mine is for me.”
Mr Logan said this centre would help WA compete with the world leaders in this vital area of research and further strengthen the state’s blossoming medical and biotechnology industries.
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