Public engagement events and News from 2014

Science Spectacular at the Manchester Science Festival

Members of staff from CADET hosted a stand at the Science Spectacular on 25th October. This popular family science fun day is hosted by The University of Manchester and Manchester Museum and has a wide range of science challenges, live experiments and interactive demonstrations. We were offered a bigger stand this year after receiving positive feedback from people from the last two years. Our stand enabled young visitors to become ‘doctors for the day’ while they carried out a range of ‘laboratory’ tests to find out ‘What’s Wrong with Teddy’, as well as learning about our research into diabetes and its complications. We also showed the animations that we have developed (see item further down). Overall, we chatted with over 175 people of all ages, promoting and explaining CADET’s research into the biology of diabetes and the development of new drugs to combat this disease.

Press release: Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes are caused by the same underlying mechanism

A press release from August regarding a published study [1] was reported worldwide by over 40 news outlets including by The Telegraph and Diabetes UK. This study suggests that both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes are the result of the same mechanism, where clumps of a hormone called amylin are toxic to the cells of the pancreas that produce both insulin and amylin. Insulin and amylin normally work together to regulate the body’s response to food intake. If they are no longer produced, then sugar levels in the blood rise resulting in diabetes and causing damage to various organs if blood sugar levels aren’t properly controlled. This study provides strong evidence that Type-1 diabetes is also caused by toxic amylin clumps killing cells in the pancreas as has previously been shown for Type-2 diabetes. In Type-1 diabetes, these toxic clumps are formed more rapidly and at an earlier age compared with Type-2.

[1] Zhang S, Liu H, et al. ‘The pathogenic mechanism of diabetes varies with the degree of overexpression and oligomerization of human amylin in the pancreatic islet β cells.’ The FASEB Journal 2014 28:5083–5096 [ 25138158]

International Clinical Research Trials' Day

On 20th May, members of CADET participated in International Clinical Research Trials' Day to commemorate the day in 1747 when James Lind began the first known controlled trial where he showed that citrus fruit was beneficial in the treatment of scurvy. Our stand highlighted the research undertaken in CADET with a specific focus on diabetes and included an interactive activity where visitors could diagnose which of two people had diabetes by carrying out a glucose dipstick test on ‘urine’ samples and by analysing ‘blood’ samples by paper chromatography.  In addition, the animations that were developed by us (see next item) were displayed on screens throughout the hospitals on the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust site.

Animations created as a Public Engagement resource

Members of CADET were granted £3500 from a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund award (097820) to The University of Manchester, to develop short videos explaining the basics of mass spectrometry, what biomarkers are, and what is involved in a clinical trial. These animated videos are designed for use by various audiences and at public events such as Science Festivals and School Study Days, or for patients who have been asked to donate samples for research or take part in a clinical trial. The animations are free to be used under a creative commons agreement and can be embedded on web pages or used at public events.

Manchester Science Fair for A-level students

In March Richard Unwin was involved in a stand where A-level students undertook the isolation of DNA from their own cheek cells.