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Dr David Morgan

2014 pump priming award recipient

Dr David Morgan, Keele University

Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues facing humanity, with the number of patients increasing, and the age of diagnosis decreasing. Existing treatments are able to delay progression of the disease temporarily, but few manage to achieve the control of blood glucose necessary to prevent the development of side effects such as blindness, amputation, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes occurs because of two factors. Firstly, the body becomes resistant to the action of insulin, the primary hormone responsible for controlling blood glucose levels. Secondly, the insulin-producing cells lose the ability to produce sufficient insulin to overcome this resistance. This leads to a loss of glucose control, which in turn leads to the side effects mentioned above.

Increasing the capacity of the insulin-producing islets of Langerhans, in the pancreas, to respond to increased glucose levels, represents a robust treatment strategy for diabetes medicines. It is this strategy which has delivered sulfonylurea and incretin drugs. Recently, it has been identified that ghrelin, a hormone involved in appetite control, can also reduce insulin secretion.

The work to be carried out under this award will allow the group at Keele to develop models and use novel pharmacological tools to investigate the pathophysiological role of ghrelin in the diabetic islet. This will allow them to test the hypothesis that the paracrine insulinostatic effects of ghrelin prevent proper compensation for insulin resistance.