CHRIM Researchers Awarded Millions to Study Type 2 Diabetes

Nearly $2 million dollars have been allocated to an innovative translational diabetes research program involving Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM) researchers. The funding is coming from a $20 million investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, JDRF Canada, Diabetes Canada, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, that was announced last fall as part of the Government of Canada’s 100 Years of Insulin: Accelerating Canadian Discoveries to Defeat Diabetes initiative. The research project titled “The Developmental Origins of Pediatric Type 2 Diabetes and Early Renal Dysfunction” will be led by four University of Manitoba researchers/CHRIM scientists from the Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM) Theme as well as one researcher from the University of British Columbia.

CHRIM Principal Investigators Leading the Study

The research team will work to better understand how to prevent childhood onset Type 2 diabetes by increasing their understanding of risk factors. This information can help break the cycle of intergenerational Type 2 diabetes (T2D), especially in First Nations families, who are disproportionately affected by diabetes.

“One of the things we believe links early life environmental exposures to disease risk is epigenetics, a kind of cellular memory of past exposures that can tell us what cellular functions are being changed in response to exposures that could increase a child’s risk of developing diabetes and kidney disease”, says Dr. Meaghan Jones, Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba. “By measuring one specific epigenetic mark, DNA methylation, in both human cohorts and experimental mouse models, we hope to identify targets for prevention or intervention to break the link between early life exposures and risk of developing diabetes.”

As a basic scientist, Dr. Christine Doucette will be conducting animal model basic science studies that will look at determinants of T2D at a basic or cellular level, while Dr. Brandy Wicklow, a clinician scientist, works with a birth cohort of mothers and children to look at the determinants of T2D in humans.

“This next five years should allow us to make significant discovery in the early exposures which increase childhood onset T2D risk which will inform individual, family and societal interventions to reduce the risk.

Dr. Brandy Wicklow

Like many research studies at the Institute, this project is an excellent example of the unique and collaborative environment that fosters relationships and networking between basic and clinician scientists. Together, they are better able to tackle important child health issues, like childhood onset Type 2 diabetes (T2D)

“The networking opportunities available through CHRIM including the research seminar series, lectureships and conference symposiums has allowed us to learn with and from each other and see where our research areas and priorities align.” says Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Christine Doucette.

This work is an extension of the work being done through the Next Generation birth cohort led by Dr. Wicklow which has received financial support from local and national donors through the Children’s hospital foundation of Manitoba. The Next Generation study was first designed to examine the metabolic and anthropometric outcomes of children born to mothers and fathers diagnosed with childhood Type 2 diabetes.

When this study is completed, researchers will have a better understanding about how maternal diabetes and early life environmental exposures can impact the health of infants and identify markers at birth that can identify which children are at the highest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and help us to understand why. This important research will also help inform preventative strategies for childhood onset Type 2 diabetes and renal complications in children.

Learn more the DREAM theme and diabetes research happening at CHRIM here.