Media releases

March 30, 2003

Symposium sheds light on complications of Type 1 diabetes

A leading Melbourne diabetes researcher says therapies currently in development will greatly assist the prevention and treatment of devastating complications typically caused by type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, including kidney disease, heart disease and blindness.

Professor Mark Cooper, Director of the JDRF Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for Diabetes Complications at the Baker Medical Research Institute, is investigating a new approach to treating kidney disease. His team is looking at new therapies to block the effect of ACE inhibitor hormones, which constrict parts of the kidney, elevating blood pressure within the kidney, causing progressive and irreversible damage.

About one-third of people with type 1 diabetes develop a severe form of kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) by the time they are 50. As a result, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in Australia, accounting for 40 percent of new cases each year. Kidney disease is the second leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Currently there is no guaranteed way to prevent it.

Prof Cooper's preliminary studies have had very promising results and he believes that his research has the potential to change the nature of diabetes, from a disease beset with potentially devastating complications to a "relatively innocent condition."

Today, Professor Cooper and a panel of leading medical researchers will address more than 200 healthcare professionals and members of Victoria's diabetes community, at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's diabetesOne Symposium & Expo, sponsored by Medibank Private.

Medibank Private's sponsorship of the Symposium enables all proceeds to go to research into finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.

Delegates will hear about recent developments in stem cell research, new therapies for reducing complications, new evidence linking type 1 diabetes with rotavirus and practical information on insulin pumps for children.

The panel of highly regarded presenters includes:

  • Dr Edouard Stanley from the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development
  • Professor Mark Cooper from the JDRF Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for Diabetes Complications, Baker Medical Research Institute
  • Dr Margo Honeymoon from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
  • Dr Fergus Cameron from the Royal Children's Hospital

Mr George Savvides, Managing Director of Medibank Private, will also address the Symposium on the company's role in helping JDRF find a cure for juvenile diabetes.

The Chief Executive Officer of JDRF, Ms Sheila Royles, said "JDRF is the largest, non-government funder of diabetes research around the world.

"Each year we invest $200 million in diabetes research globally, some $10 million of that in Australia. This commitment ensures that diabetes is a highly dynamic research field, attracting some of the world's best scientists who, every year, make new discoveries that lead us closer and closer to a cure.

"The diabetesOne Symposium and Expo is a valuable opportunity for people with diabetes and their families to hear from Australia's best researchers about the latest trends and breakthroughs in diabetes research," she said.

Mr George Savvides said that Medibank Private was delighted to partner with JDRF because of the synergies that exist between the two organisations.

"One of Medibank Private's key corporate goals is to provide real industry leadership in health and wellbeing, as part of a broader objective of contributing to improving the health of Australians generally," he said.

"A tangible way we can do this is by sponsoring forums like diabetesOne, where those affected by juvenile diabetes have access to meaningful information about research into treatment and cure.

"This is consistent with our aim of moving beyond being just a 'bill-payer', to taking a more active role in supporting the health and well-being of our members, and hopefully the broader community."

The diabetesOne Symposium and Exposition will be held from 1pm at Flemington Racecourse. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 16. Bookings are not required.

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