Piara Waters: funding boost helps type 2 diabetes research

Rekhati Abhayawardana with fellow researchers Kevin Pfleger and Elizabeth Johnstone.
Rekhati Abhayawardana with fellow researchers Kevin Pfleger and Elizabeth Johnstone.

A PIARA Waters researcher has received a financial boost as she works to protect people from complications associated with type 2 diabetes.

Rekhati Abhayawardana is among a team of WA researchers who received a $60,000 funding boost from Diabetes Research WA which will allow them to continue investigations into a treatment that could save people from the life-threatening complications of type 2 diabetes.

Associate professor Kevin Pfleger said his team’s work focused on a molecule called RAGE, the ‘receptor for advanced glycation end-products’, which sat in the membrane of cells that were injured or stressed.

“As RAGE is only present when cells are in this injured or stressed mode, which happens in type 2 diabetes, it’s a key target that we believe we can hone in on to possibly prevent and definitely use to help fight the health effects of this condition,” he said.

“We’ve discovered a new way in which this molecule is activated, triggering a cascade of signalling in cells that leads to inflammation and cell injury, and we’ve found a way to inhibit this process which should, in turn, limit the complications of type 2 developing, so it’s incredibly exciting.”

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said the research was worthy of the funding.

“This project could be a significant game-changer in the treatment of type 2 diabetes as there remains an unmet need for innovative treatment strategies to manage this condition and shows how Western Australia is at the forefront of advances in this field,” she said.