A study in partnership with the College of New Caledonia hopes to change the game when it comes to diabetes prevention.
The lead scientist of a local biomedical start-up is working to find undiagnosed symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes before the disease sets in.
CEO of Alluvion Biomedical, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn is focusing on the effects of rising blood sugar levels. “That’s actually a problem because it’s quite late in the development of disease,” Dunn said, “We’re looking to tap into metabolic changes that occur years or decades earlier than that so that we can target the disease at a state where it’s actually quite easy to reverse.”
Working alongside CNC Biology Technician, Trudi Johnson, the team analyzes tubes of DNA sample with the hope of finding early symptoms of diabetes in healthy individuals before an official diagnosis has been made.
Dunn says she’s in the process of finding different metabolic changes. “As we’re exposed to more risk factors our cells change and so they change the level of DNA and RNA and proteins that they are producing,” she said. “These are bio markers and we can monitor those levels and if we can identify those levels very early, then we can intervene with disease very early.”
By detecting early metabolic changes that could lead to diabetes, Alluvion will look to work with individuals on how to reverse the trend. “We can implement strategies earlier on, whether that be changes in lifestyle or pharmacological, so drug interactions way back in a stage where we don’t even realize we’re sick yet,” said Dunn.
The recent partnership with CNC and Alluvion Biomedical is just one of many studies the College is working on. Johnson says it’s a chance for local students to engage in high quality research. “It’s an opportunity for our students to be involved in research, to get some lab skills, to kind of develop some problem building skills in terms of research, so that’s the biggest paramount in my mind.”
With a five thousand dollar grant from National Research Council Canada (NRC), Dunn is looking for students to get involved to eventually develop a handheld biosensor in the next three to five years. “The bio sensor will be used for monitoring pancreatic function in type 2 diabetics, but more so for people who have not been diagnosed with diabetes at all to monitor their health in general,” Dunn said.
The study will now focus on building a detection method and will soon implement the regular screening of volunteers.