Published on 21 April 2016

A two-year study on the development of type 2 diabetes is being run in Malaysia by a UK-based biotechnology company that aims to help healthcare professionals predict how the condition could progress.

Oxford BioDynamics will follow 480 people in Malaysia as part of a study to track how the condition develops, in order to provide a way to test for people who could be at risk of type 2 diabetes and those with the condition who could be more likely to have related health complications.

The study will measure people’s blood sugar levels and put them in four groups based on their readings for healthy people, people who may be at risk of type 2 diabetes, and those with the condition who are treated, and not treated.

Researchers will use blood samples to look at how type 2 diabetes develops

Over the following two years those taking part in the study will provide blood samples at six month intervals, from which the research team will monitor the development of type 2 diabetes and build a test that could provide a prediction for how the condition may develop, based on clues from the study participant’s blood samples.

Dr Lim Chun Ren, Oxford BioDynamics Malaysia Director, and study leader said: “The International Diabetes Federation has described diabetes as an immense global challenge and in Malaysia, where one in five of the population over 30 has been diagnosed with the disease, this challenge is especially acute. We hope the outcomes of this study will have a real impact on the quality of life for Malaysians living with and at risk of type 2 diabetes. We are grateful to Diabetes Malaysia, and the Hospital Seberang Jaya for their collaboration and help to deliver this important study.”

Dr Alexandre Akoulitchev, Chief Scientific Officer at Oxford BioDynamics said: “There is a significant unmet clinical need for a companion tool to provide patients with diabetes and those in a pre-diabetic state with a prognosis of their disease. Diabetes is a severely debilitating disease for individuals living with it, and as such, costly for the societies they live in. Clearer prognosis of the disease will mean better treatment for individuals at a more reasonable cost for societies.”

Dr. Ang Hock Aun, Endocrinologist of Hospital Seberang Jaya, said: “Most clinical studies involving type 2 diabetes are biochemical and we are particularly excited now to collaborate with Oxford BioDynamics to study the epigenetic aspect of this disease.”

At each stage of the trial participants will provide a 15ml sample of blood, and frozen samples will be delivered to the Oxford BioDynamics base in Penang where a profile of chromatin conformation signatures (CCSs) will be made up, and compared with glucose (blood sugar) levels.

Researchers will look at the DNA in the blood to try and work out the causes of type 2 diabetes and predict how it may develop for people that have the condition.

More than 16.6%, or 3.3 million, of the 20 million population of Malaysian adults aged 20-79 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is considerably higher than the 9% of people believed to have the condition globally.

The World Health Organization recently published their first Global report on diabetes that revealed 422 million adults are now living with the condition worldwide.

Health problems including being overweight and obesity were highlighted as the main factors in the rise of people with type 2 diabetes, with most cases of the condition found among people living in developing countries.

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