The genetics and pathophysiology of diabetes and its complications
In 2008, Professor Dunger and his team launched the first international study of the use of ACE inhibitors and statins in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (TID) based on extensive preliminary observational data involving over 10,500 young people with diabetes and their parents. Other on-going studies of TID include the role of the growth hormone – IGF1 axis in the development of insulin resistance, and the place of growth hormone inhibitors in preventing diabetic complications.
The clinical testing of closed-looped insulin delivery in T1D, using algorithms developed by Dr Hovorka, is showing promising results. Under supervised conditions, overnight closed-loop reduced the risk of nocturnal hypoclycaemia and improved glucose control. The first-ever home study will adopt an in-house prototype system which has received regulatory approval. The theme covers safety and efficacy of insulin therapy and extends to the study of insulin replacement in preterm infants (NIRTURE), co-ordinated by Dr Beardsall, and older children and adults receiving intensive care.
Determinants of birth size early and infant growth and how they relate to risk for adults disease
Professor Dunger and Dr Ken Ong (MRC epidemiology) have collaborated over many years studying genetic, environmental determinants of size at birth, future growth and risk for adult disease. Current studies include study of the role of imprinted genes led by Dr Clive Petry and detailed evaluation of the effects of nutrition during infancy on short term risk for obesity and insulin resistance.
Epigenetics and mucosal immunology in paediatric intestinal health and disease
Another area of research is focused on epigenetics of the intestinal immune system in health and disease particularly inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) led by Dr Zilbauer. Specifically, we are currently exploring the impact of epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and histone modifications on regulating gene expression in purified cell subsets such as the intestinal epithelium as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).
Pathophysiology of multi-organ failure in critical illness
As part of a study to investigate pathophysiology of gut barrier dysfunction in critical illness, Dr Nazima Pathan and the PICU research group are undertaking research into the role of gut-derived bacterial endotoxin in the pathophysiology of inflammation and organ dysfunction in critically ill children. Our PICU team has an interest in multivariate data analysis, and is undertaking a major study of the genomic and metabonomic responses to critical illness in children.
The genetic and hormonal control of human sex development
Studies on mammalian sex development are applied to the management of infants with disorders of sex development (DSD), including the effects of environmental variants in genes controlling androgen production and action appear to affect normal development, including growth at puberty. Much of this research is underpinned by the Cambridge Baby Growth Study (CBGS) established by Professor Hughes and Dr Carlo Acerini in 2001, with over 2000 families recruited. Recent study explores role of putative endocrine disruptors in the development of common DSD such as hypospadias.
University & Clinical School