Funding connects UBCO and British researchers to develop novel technology
A UBC Okanagan professor is the Canadian lead for a 13-person team that recently won an internationally-competitive one million dollar award to accelerate diabetes research.
Dr. Ali McManus, professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, says both British and Canadian researchers possess impressive records in diabetes research. In 2019, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, in partnership with the UK Medical Research Council, launched a novel funding opportunity to unite each countries’ efforts to improve the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which sugar, or glucose, levels build up in a person’s bloodstream, says Dr. McManus. By 2022, 2.16 million new cases of diabetes are expected in Canada, resulting in a predicted $15.36 billion in health-care costs related to managing the disease.
“Being physically active and exercising is critical for the management of Type 2 diabetes,” she adds. “Exercise helps people with diabetes control their blood sugar and reduce other serious health risks associated with the condition.”
Yet, she admits, it’s been proven that sticking with exercise is difficult for a lot of people. Research is needed to help create new ways that will help people exercise regularly. The unique fund, which will bring the team together, was developed to support world-leading collaborative research aimed at making exercise easier for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Building on their existing partnership, the cross-disciplinary team will conduct the MOTIVATE-T2D clinical trial based out of Kelowna, and Liverpool, United Kingdom. In MOTIVATE-T2D, participants will exercise at home while mobile technology is used to provide feedback to an exercise specialist. That person will counsel and personalize the exercise prescription to maximize health benefits.
Participants with Type 2 diabetes will be given cloud-connected heart rate monitors and receive individually-tailored feedback from an exercise specialist to help them start, and stick with, exercise over a one-year period. Given that the exercise is performed at home and the counselling delivered virtually, the team in Kelowna is recruiting participants from across Canada for this research study.
The development of the novel mobile technology counselling was created by a team of interdisciplinary experts, including behaviour change scientist Dr. Mary Jung, exercise physiologist and diabetes researcher Dr. Jonathan Little, endocrinologist and clinician-scientist Dr. Charlotte Jones and public health and clinical trialist Dr. Joel Singer.
The UK team is led by Dr. Matthew Cocks who will conduct the same study for people who live in Liverpool, and allow for comparisons between delivery and outcomes across each country.
“Now more than ever, we need to meet the needs of individuals living with Type 2 diabetes by helping them manage their condition from home. We are very excited that this evidence-based technology enables us to provide quality care from the comfort of people’s homes.”
McManus says the interdisciplinary team will work across disciplines and oceans with the shared pursuit of one strategic aim, to accelerate diabetes research and improve the lives of those living with diabetes in Canada and the UK.