Major trial of a drug to retard diabetic eye disease

Major trial of a drug to retard diabetic eye disease

A grant of $1.25 million has been awarded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia to Professor Alicia Jenkins, the CTC's head of diabetes research.

The funding will allow Professor Jenkins and Keech (study co-chairpersons) and their Australian colleagues to study a potential treatment for eye damage (retinopathy) caused by type 1 diabetes. Damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye is a common and serious complication of diabetes. In previous CTC research led by Professor Keech, tablets of the drug fenofibrate was found to be very effective for preventing diabetic retinopathy in people with type 2 diabetes. Now, fenofibrate is being tested in people with type 1 diabetes, in the FAME-1 Eye study.

"Our study will investigate whether fenofibrate, a drug that is already known to be safe, can slow or reverse eye damage in adults with type 1 diabetes, as well as other complications including nerve, kidney and cardiovascular damage," says Professor Jenkins.

"This drug currently can be used to reduce the risk of diabetic eye damage in people with type 2 diabetes, but there are no studies of this treatment in patients with type 1 diabetes.

"This grant will enable us to conduct a strong trial for Australian adults with type 1 diabetes, and the results are likely to be of global interest," she said.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic currently incurable auto-immune disease, usually starting in childhood, in which antibodies produced by the person's own body destroys their insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The incidence in Australia and other countries is increasing. Daily insulin injections are essential to sustain life of people with Type 1 diabetes and it enables most to lead long and productive lives, but this is an imperfect treatment. Whilst outcomes have improved substantially over the past few decades many people with diabetes still develop complications such as vision loss, kidney damage and accelerated atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and leg amputations. 

26 Oct 2015