Scientists searching for the elusive cure for type one diabetes will get an extra $54.5 million in federal government funding to help the more than 120,000 children and adults in Australia with the chronic condition.
Ballarat families who are participating in diabetes research and had campaigned for funding are celebrating the announcement that could help prevent their children from developing type one diabetes.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will receive $29.5 million for its Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Monday.
Another $25 million will be awarded in competitive grants to research projects focused on early-stage research that could potentially unlock new discoveries that can lead to clinical trials of new treatments.
When research projects can’t keep going because they don’t have the funding it breaks the heart of people with diabetes because we can’t get the answers.Belinda Moore, diabetes researcher
Diabetes researcher and Ballarat JDRF walk organiser Belinda Moore said the funding announcement was a ‘huge achievement’ for people with type one diabetes who had been working for years through events, JDRF walks and meeting with MPs to secure funding support.
“There are so many amazing JDRF advocate families out there that are doing so much. There are little kids that haven’t even started kinder getting out there and getting the message across as to what this funding means to their lives,” she said.
More than 100 people participated in the JDRF walk in Ballarat in December in as part of the campaign and a show of community support.
More than 50 families from the Ballarat and Geelong regions are participating in the ENDIA study.
Ms Moore said the funding announced meant diabetes research projects, including the ENDIA study which has been running for almost six years, could continue.
“When research projects can’t keep going because they don’t have the funding it breaks the heart of people with diabetes because we can’t get the answers,” she said.
“In reality, we will never find a cure because why people are developing type one is multi-factorial. That is heartbreaking for those who have had type one for so long. But what we can do for children that are at risk is preventing them from developing type one. The cure the is the prevention so prevention is cure. That is what keeps us going with the research.
“That’s where we save money from a government perspective. If we can do the prevention we don’t have all those public health expenses that come after a diagnosis.”
Type one diabetes is an auto-immune disease that attacks a person’s ability to produce insulin. It is most commonly first diagnosed in children under 15, but can manifest at any age.
There is no cure for the condition and no proven way to prevent it.
The new funding is part of the government’s $120 billion Medical Research Future Fund, of which $125 million is committed to translating fledgling discoveries to bigger, robust, high-powered trials that have real potential to benefit patients.
“The research funding I am announcing today will help to increase the excellence and impact of this research in Australia by further supporting our best and brightest researchers to find – ultimately – a cure for diabetes,” Mr Hunt said.
In November the federal government announced an additional $100 million to expand its free access to continuous glucose-monitoring devices for pregnant women, children and more adults with type 1 diabetes.
- with The Age