Multi-million dollar funding collaboration to improve long-term health conditions

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Healthier Lives Director Jim Mann today welcomed the joint announcement from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith about three successful research projects to address long-term health conditions.

“Healthier Lives has joined forces with the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health in the Long Term Conditions (LTC) Partnership  to provide a funding pool of $7.9 million to accelerate the pace towards our goal of not only reducing non-communicable diseases in New Zealand but also the inequities in health outcomes associated with these diseases,” said Professor Mann.

All three successful projects focus on the prevention and management of diabetes, a significant and complex long-term condition. Six per cent of New Zealand adults have diabetes mellitus and one in four have pre-diabetes. Rates of both are rapidly increasing, and are higher among Māori and Pacific people.

“The fact that a quarter of all New Zealand adults have pre-diabetes, a condition that can progress to type 2 diabetes and cause significant long-term health problems, must be addressed,” Professor Mann said.

“Diabetes is such a complex long-term condition, that we need a comprehensive and sustained programme of research to better understand its causes and complications and examine a range of options for prevention and management,” he said.

The LTC contestable funding round , announced in June last year, sought proposals for high quality translational research that focuses on the prevention, early detection, or successful management of long-term conditions.

Reducing the progression of pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes is a priority in the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, and in the Ministry of Health “living well with diabetes” strategy.

One project deals specifically with prevention while the other two are investigating better ways to successfully manage diabetes.

Prevention and management of diabetes projects

Preventing type 2 diabetes with probiotics and prebiotics

Associate Professor Jeremy KrebsLed by Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs, University of Otago, Wellington—a study to see if probiotic supplements and prebiotics can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of people with pre-diabetes.

Associate Professor Krebs said: “New research has demonstrated that microbes in our gut affect our health in many ways. By taking probiotic supplements and prebiotics, we can modify our gut microbes, and this study will test whether these substances can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of those with pre-diabetes.”

Mana Tū: A whānau ora approach to long-term conditions

Dr Matire HarwoodLed by Dr Matire Harwood, (Ngāpuhi), National Hauora Coalition, aims to improve the impact of clinical and lifestyle interventions for those living with pre-diabetes and people with poorly controlled diabetes.

Dr Harwood said:  ‘’the programme will be undertaken by a Māori-led collaboration  of primary health care workers and researchers who are passionate about, and have a proven track record in, implementing services that improve outcomes and reduce inequities in LTCs.” Dr Harwood added that the Mana Tū team is delighted that their project was selected, and excited about starting it in March.

Innovative management of diabetes with a comprehensive digital health programme

Professor Di SarfatiLed by Professor Diana Sarfati University of Otago, Wellington. This project will assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of a digital programme that supports prevention and self-management of pre-diabetes and diabetes.

“Our already high rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes are rapidly increasing, and even higher among Māori and Pacific people. We will assess clinical and cost-effectiveness of this digital health programme, and translate our findings directly into clinical practice to see if it can effectively reverse the trend of rapidly increasing rates of diabetes,” said Professor Sarfati.

For more detail on the announcement and projects: