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5 clinical trials tackling diabetes

10 July 2020
Trialling new ways to improve the lives of people with diabetes

This National Diabetes Week, discover some of the clinical trials underway at the University of Sydney, which are improving the lives of people with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

1. Preventing diabetes in people with depression

It is known that diabetes and depression are often co-occuring morbidities. When people with depression also have metabolic syndrome (including obesity, high blood pressure and sugar levels and poor cholesterol), they are 6.6 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

Lifestyle intervention programs, focusing on weight loss, diet, aerobic exercise and resistance training, have proven to be helpful, but which program is best remains an open question.

The PRT-MEDIC trial being conducted by Dr Yorgi Mavros from the School of Health Sciences is looking at whether a progressive resistance training program alone can improve depressive symptoms and metabolic health.

Recruitment for this trial at Lidcombe (NSW) remains open until the end of August. Recruitment at the University of Sydney campus will open up March next year.

To find out more please contact Dr Yogi Mavros.  

2. Exercise intervention in Australia and China

Professor of Endocrinology, Stephen Twigg, from the Central Clinical School, is looking to determine if high intensity interval training (HIIT) and progressive resistance training can improve the health and well-being of people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

The PACE-G trial is currently recruiting in Australia through the University of Sydney and in China through Shanghai Jiao Tong University. They are looking to recruit 270 participants for a two year trial period. 

Exercise is supervised for 12 weeks by exercise physiologists in the Charles Perkins Centre research gymnasium. After 12 weeks, Fitbits are used to track heart rate data, estimated energy expenditure, body weight and exercise episodes.  

To find out more please contact endocrinology.paceg@sydney.edu.au.

Alicia Jenkins

Professor Alicia Jenkins is the CTC’s Director of Diabetes and the lead investigator on studies 3 and 4.

3. Preventing eye damage

People with diabetes are 25-times more likely to lose vision than those without diabetes. In the FIELD trial, led and managed by the University’s Clinical Trials Centre (CTC), a once daily low-cost blood-fat lowering tablet, fenofibrate, was proven to retard eye damage (retinopathy) in adults with type 2 diabetes. Fenofibrate was found to also protected against kidney and nerve damage, and against heart disease in some subgroups.

In a world first study, funded by the NHMRC and JDRF Australia, the CTC is now leading the FAME-1 Eye trial will determine if fenofibrate can achieve similar results for those adults with type 1 diabetes and early eye damage.

This trial is currently recruiting in 18 sites across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and has already recruited close to half of the required 450 participants.

For more information, contact fame1eye@ctc.usyd.edu.au.

4. World’s most advanced pump

People with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections for life. Studies, including those conducted by University’s Clinical Trials Centre (CTC), suggest pumps reduce health complications through smoother glucose control and lower insulin doses. The Hybrid Closed Loop Pump attempts to go one step further in accuracy by delivering insulin according to glucose levels measured by a sensor under the patient’s skin. 

Its status as the world’s most advanced pump was recently tested in a trial involving the University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, University of WA, the Telethon Children’s’ Institute, and the CTC.

A study involving 120 adults with type 1 diabetes demonstrated the pump delivered improvements in glucose control and some improvement in quality of life. Initial results were reported at a recent American Diabetes Association meeting, and a manuscript is under review for publication.

5. Screening among Indigenous Australians

Diabetes outcomes are generally worse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than in non-Indigenous Australians, particularly in rural and remote areas where there are often not enough eye specialists (ophthalmologists and optometrists) to screen people.

Researchers at the the University’s Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) are tackling this problem in two ways:

  • By training Indigenous health workers in how to screen people, with nearly 20 newly trained workers screening over 600 adults with type 2 diabetes.
  • Integrating eye screening into care programs, resulting in over 150 adult Indigenous Australians with diabetes attending a primary care clinic and being screened.

For more, contact Professor Anthony Keech or Susan Lohan.