SB: « The Diabetes Research Unit Cymru was first funded by Welsh Government in 2015 for three years with the potential for a further two years funding. It is an all-Wales initiative hosted by Swansea University. Prior to 2015, Welsh Government funded the Diabetes Research Network, which was also administered from Swansea University from 2009. »
FRIO:What motivated you to get involved in diabetes research?
SB: « My wife was the first UK Diabetes Research Nurse, based in Birmingham, in 1996 and encouraged me to get involved in diabetes research. »
FRIO:How does your work impact on the lives of people with diabetes?
SB: « Here at DRU Cymru, our focus is on advancing research in diabetes in order to better understand the condition and develop clinical practices. We hope to do this by facilitating both ‘investigator-led’ studies and projects sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, and translating the findings from published research into clinical practice. »
FRIO:What have been your biggest research findings so far?
SB: « By studying people with type 1 diabetes for more than fifty years, we were able to identify characteristics of patients who are protected from kidney damage due to diabetes.
These features include low body weight and insulin requirements, normal blood pressure and high levels of (protective) high density lipoprotein cholesterol.
After 15-20 years of type 1 diabetes, these findings allow clinicians to identify patients with low risk of future kidney involvement (who are also at lower risk for other complications). This information can provide reassurance for a majority of people with type 1 diabetes. »
FRIO:What are the latest trends in diabetes research?
SB: « There are huge advances in new therapies for type 2 diabetes and also exciting results from early, intensive dietary management of this condition. »
FRIO:What are the current most important innovations in diabetes treatment?
SB: « Non-invasive monitoring of blood glucose levels (not needing needle-stick puncture) is a rapidly evolving area. Also, new treatments for type 2 diabetes which reduce the risk of heart disease, are being identified by large multi-centre clinical trials. »
FRIO:Tell us more about your current research studies.
SB: « The Diabetes Research Unit currently has the following research themes: Diabetic Retinopathy; Exercise Physiology & Lifestyle; Immunity & Type 1 Diabetes; Pre-diabetes, Obesity & Metabolic Surgery; Paediatric Diabetes; Psychological and Social Aspects of Diabetes; and New Therapies and Devices. In addition, Swansea has a major involvement in phase 3 clinical trials of novel diabetes therapies. »
FRIO:For the effective treatment of diabetes, how important is it that insulin is kept between 18 and 26°C?
SB: « Insulin is sensitive to both low and high temperatures. Prior to the opening of a vial/cartridge of insulin (or initial use of a pre-filled pen), insulin should be stored in the fridge. After initial use, it should then be stored at room temperature, which might require the use of cooling wallet, especially in hot climates. »
FRIO:What is the future vision of the DRU Cymru?
SB: « The Diabetes Research Unit Cymru aims to address the health burden caused by diabetes in Wales by uniting researchers, clinicians and patients. »
Read more about The Diabetes Research Unit Cymru here.
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