Long Term Conditions: Diabetes and Metabolism

The Long Term Conditions: Diabetes and Metabolism subgroup focuses on clinical and molecular aspects of diabetes related research. Collaborating with researchers in the Research Centre for Health (ReaCH) and across the School of Health and Life Sciences, this work incorporates multidisciplinary cellular, imaging and molecular biology techniques, to understand mechanisms and pathways in diabetes, and reveal therapeutic targets for diabetes complications. We have many international collaborators supporting the projects, and also work with NHS colleagues.

Our key projects and targets: diabetes and obesity and related degenerative diseases, lipid transport and diabetes, skin wound healing and diabetes.

Prof Ann Graham has expertise in lipid metabolism, atherosclerosis and Type 2 diabetes. Her current projects focus on the role of microRNA sequences in disease processes related to diabetes. In the first, the ability of high density lipoprotein (HDL) to improve beta cell function is being explored, by investigating microRNA sequences modulated by HDL in these cells.  In the second, the role of microRNA sequences in mediating the improved wound healing seen in the presence of HDL is being investigated. Prof Graham employs a human beta cell line (1.1B4) and various primary cells sourced from the GCU Skin Research Tissue Bank (neonatal and adult fibroblasts, keratinocytes) to examine glucolipotoxicity and disrupted wound healing in diabetic skin cells.

Dr Catherine Wright has research interests in dermatology and diabetes, especially the effects of Type 2 diabetes on ulcer formation. She uses human skin and human dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes from diabetic and non-diabetic sources, equine primary skin cells, HaCaT keratinocyte cell lines to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms of wound healing and skin fibrosis. She focuses on the roles of gap junctions and the IGFBP superfamily in wound healing and extracellular matrix deposition with the aim of developing novel therapeutics. Key to this work is the GCU Skin Research Tissue Bank, led by Dr Patricia Martin, supported by Dr Wright and Professor Ann Graham, and previously funded by Animal Free Research.

Dr Steven Patterson has research interests in the endocrinology of diabetes and obesity, specifically look at cellular and molecular aspects of intestinal and pancreatic endocrine biology. This includes the role of nutrients, hormones and current and developing pharmacological agents (including natural products), on regulation of gut and islet endocrine cell function and hormone secretion (for example, insulin, GLP-1). His research uses both 2D and 3D in vitro culture of animal and human derived gut (GLUTag) and islet cells (MIN6, BRIN-BD11, 1.1B4 cells), as well as in vivo models of obesity and diabetes and employs a range of techniques including live cell calcium imaging. The overall goal of Dr Patterson research is to gain a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying obesity and diabetes pathogenesis with the aim of developing novel therapeutic approaches to enhance metabolic health. He has clinical links with NHS Diabetes consultants Prof Andrew Collier and Dr James Boyle in central Scotland. ‌‌

Our research is linked by a desire to understand how diabetes affects the cardiovascular system, pancreas and the skin, and how in understanding the deleterious effects novel therapeutics could be developed to combat them. We have many overlapping interests with the Molecular Mechanisms & Therapeutics (MMT) Sub-Group and collaborate on projects with them. The sub-group aligns with GCU’s commitment to the Common Good, and the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals in supporting and improving human health. The Diabetes and Metabolism sub-group achieves impact from its research through national and international links with academia, industry and third sector partners. This includes the University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, University of Edinburgh, University of Auckland, University of Ulster, NHS GG&C, Unilever and Zealand Pharma.

Diabetes and Metabolism Researchers have been supported by Diabetes UK, the British Skin Foundation, the Chief Scientist Office, Medical Research Scotland, the Cunningham Trust, Tenovus Scotland, Animal Free Research, the Carnegie Trust, Petplan, Alzheimer’s Research Trust, Rosetrees Trust, Heart Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation.