Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes

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Overview

The Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes is one of the world’s leading clinical paediatric endocrinology research centres. Its research staff leads basic and epidemiological studies into the causes of childhood diabetes and their complications and conducts clinical trials that aim to prevent or cure diabetes and osteoporosis in children.

The key theme of the research is prevention. The Institute’s ultimate objectives are to prevent the onset of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in children; to prevent the development of diabetes complications, and to prevent the morbidity, such as bone pain and fractures, in children with primary and secondary osteopenia.

Research achievements

he Institute is internationally recognised for its expertise in type 1 diabetes research into epidemiology and complications. This year it has had publications in the British Medical Journal, Diabetes Care and Diabetic Medicine. The Institute is co-investigator in several international studies into the prevention of complications, for example using diet modification (the AdDit study), reducing the incidence of diabetes in the genetically at risk (the TRIGR study) and the use of intranasal insulin in the national diabetes prevention study. Basic studies investigating the viral aetiology of type 1 diabetes are demonstrating effects of enteroviruses on beta cells.

With about 11% of all new cases of diabetes diagnosed in adolescents associated with obesity, and many more adolescents developing metabolic complications of obesity, the Institute has commenced two randomised controlled trials to try to reverse the metabolic abnormalities and prevent development of diabetes. RESIST is comparing the effects of diets that vary in their carbohydrate and protein content on insulin sensitivity in combination with an intense exercise program. VIBRATE is examining the effect of whole body vibration on insulin sensitivity working vis stimulation of the lower limb muscle in adolescents with signs of clinical insulin resistance.

Vitamin D deficiency rickets is a major re-emerging problem is Australia, particularly among recent migrants, children with dark skin colour and girls who are covered for cultural or religious reasons. The Institute has commenced a study to assess the use of high dose (Stoss) vitamin D therapy for rickets that should result in change to routine clinical practice.

Whole body vibration training has the potential to revolutionise the prevention and treatment of osteopenia in children. Working through increasing muscle mass and force, vibration training has the potential to both improve mobility and bone mass in children with a variety of disorders. The Institute has commenced trials of vibration training in children with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Cystic Fibrosis and Mitochondrial Disorders. Protocols are also established for other disorders.