Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges facing Qatar and the world today. It is therefore understandable that Diabetes has become one of the cornerstones of both the Qatar National Health Priorities and the Qatar National Research Strategy. In keeping with its role as a national health research institute, QBRI is actively pursuing research into Diabetes, aiming to clarify our understanding of both the social and molecular causes of Diabetes, and to lead the way in the development of novel treatments and therapies for this globally increasing problem.
Research Interests: Understanding the molecular effects of Diabetes and the development of novel therapies and treatments
The research goal of QBRI Diabetes Center is to pursue fundamental knowledge by fostering an active research environment focused on identifying the molecular and biophysical changes, and lifestyle factors related to the development of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, specifically within the population of Qatar. It will implement and sustain research protocols by fostering interactions and collaborations amongst researchers and health-care workers at regional, national and international levels.
The current work within the center looks at the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways leading to insulin resistance and Diabetes, facilitated by many of the latest techniques and technologies,including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, to identify dysregulated genes and pathways within affected individuals.
Cells respond to stressful conditions by inducing heat shock proteins (HSPs) that act to ensure new and damaged proteins are correctly folded. Often patients with obesity and Diabetes exhibit impaired expression of HSPs, which has been observed to correlate with insulin resistance. Researchers within the center are actively working to elucidate the molecular function, and evaluate the effect, of HSPs in glucose homeostasis and insulin signalling
Insulin resistance manifests in skeletal muscle, liver and adipocytes; and is accompanied by a compensatory increase in insulin secretion by β-cells. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs which are present in many body fluids and have recently been detected in several pathological disorders. The identification and differential expression of miRNAs in insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant patients is expected to enable to development of biomarkers for early diagnosis and build upon our current understanding of the pathogenesis of insulin resistance.
As with any condition, identifying and characterising the metabolic perturbations that precede the onset of Diabetes is paramount to identify individuals at risk, especially where this can be achieved during early asymptomatic stages, when treatment is likely to be most effective. The comprehensive analysis of low-molecular weight metabolites carried out by Metabolomics investigators, is becoming a powerful tool for disease diagnosis and biomarker identification. The center uses this technology in combination with multivariate data analysis tools to identify Diabetes predictive biomarkers and other risks associated with the development of diabetes and obesity.
The center also pursues the use of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), insulin resistance, and pancreatic β cell differentiation. T2D has a strong genetic component and often occurs as a result of insufficient insulin secretion by pancreatic β cells and/orthe inappropriate responce to insulin by target tissues (insulin resistance). Patient-specific iPSCs are being used as tools to investigate mechanisms and pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of specific forms of T2D and insulin resistance; and to screen novel drugs and therapies for the treatment of T2D.