BHF Professor Mark Kearney and his team are leading several groundbreaking research projects which could lead to new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body processes sugar. When the body does not produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down on its own, this is called type 1 diabetes. When your cells are resistant to the blood sugar lowering effects of insulin this is called type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is more common and tends to develop gradually as people get older – usually after the age of 40.
Diabetes increases your risk of having a heart attack. It can also lead to peripheral arterial disease, an often painful condition affecting blood vessels in the arms and legs. In extreme cases, it leads to limb amputation. Diabetes can also lead to blindness, because of changes to the blood vessels that nourish the back of the eye.
We still don't understand exactly why diabetes leads to heart and circulatory disease.
Rebuilding blood vessels
Professor Kearney aims to develop new treatments for people with diabetes, as well as improve our understanding of the link between diabetes and heart disease. One major focus of his team's research is to try to develop a new treatment for people with diabetes, aimed at repairing damaged blood vessels.
Another programme will focus on finding new ways to prevent the damaging effects of diabetes in people who already have coronary heart disease
Over the past ten years, survival rates have improved overall for people who have had a heart attack - but we haven't seen the same trend for people with diabetes.
That's why Professor Kearney's research is so vital. He will lead a growing body of research at the University of Leeds Medical School – embedded in one of the biggest teaching hospitals in Europe.
Professor Kearney's BHF Professor award is the culmination of years of work which has helped us to understand how resistance to insulin - the hormone that controls the breakdown of blood sugar - can damage the cells that line the inside of our blood vessels. We've funded some of that work. But these crucial discoveries have only been possible thanks to the donations of our supporters.