AITHM James Cook University


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18 January 2022

Townsville-based researchers are developing new solutions to the diabetes epidemic through innovative research such as electromagnetic stimulation therapy, and ground-breaking clinical trials.

AITHM research member and JCU Professor Usman Malabu heads the Translational Research in Endocrinology and Diabetes (TREAD) and a team of 18 researchers and clinicians, who are driving patient-centred research that is contributing to an expanding body of knowledge on diabetes.

The collaboration includes endocrinologists at the Townsville University Hospital and James Cook University researchers, who are pioneering novel landmark studies to diagnose, treat, and monitor diabetes and its complications.

Professor Malabu said these include new technologies in electromagnetic stimulation and shockwave therapies for diabetic foot ulcers and the use of a new diagnostic marker to diagnose diabetic foot infections in rural and remote areas.

“The novel diagnostic marker we’ve established enables rapid diagnosis of diabetic foot infections,” Prof Malabu said.

“In addition to faster diagnosis, is more effective healing of diabetic foot ulcers using shockwave therapy. Our hope is that this novel therapy may serve as usual care for patients with diabetic foot ulcers in the future.”

In the past year, Prof Malabu has contributed to eight publications on aspects of type 1 and 2 diabetes, including self-management of the conditions and the long-term outcomes from diabetic foot ulcers and amputations.

TREAD is facilitating ground-breaking clinical trials, and is now offering new treatment options for patients aimed at combating diabetic limb ulcers and amputations. A recent trial on electromagnetic stimulation tested the technology on 100 patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
“Electromagnetic stimulation and shockwave therapies target deep inside the wound and increase circulation in that area. Good circulation is a critical component to wound healing,” Dr Malabu said.
“The studies showed a huge difference in the quality of lives for people with diabetic foot ulcers in the region and a significant reduction of time it takes to heal from years to months.

”TREAD is also training and educating the next generation of diabetes researchers in the Tropics, mentoring JCU students on more than 15 projects, including four honours medical students and four Master and Doctor of Philosophy candidates in the 2020-2021 academic year.

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