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New impetus for Type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer research

Student walking past Zoology building

Thursday 29 July 2010 3:58pm

Wakefield Biomedical Research Unit labThe Dean of the University of Otago Wellington, Professor Peter Crampton and the Director of the Wakefield Biomedical Research Unit, Professor Richard Stubbs have welcomed its relocation to the Wellington campus of the Medical School. The Unit will have significant positive spin-offs for researchers, clinicians and medical students, and future health care in New Zealand.

The University of Otago, Wellington and the Wakefield Unit are celebrating this new era on Friday July 30 with a function at UOW. The Unit was established in 1995 and was previously located at the Wakefield Hospital in Wellington

Professor Stubbs is delighted with the new joint venture, as is Professor Crampton. Wakefield Health Ltd is proud to continue to support the relocated Unit.

“There are significant synergies in being located at the Medical School, next to Wellington Hospital, with larger numbers of scientists and clinicians able to work more closely on key research projects,” says Professor Stubbs.

“Medical research in this clinical environment is ultimately likely to have direct benefit for patient care.”

An exciting new research area is Professor Stubbs’ investigations into the fact that 85% of diabetics who have gastric bypass surgery for obesity are ‘cured’ of diabetes within a week. The reasons for this dramatic and sudden ‘cure’ are still a mystery, but it may relate to diabetes being caused by an unknown substance or hormone released from that part of the gut which is bypassed in the surgical procedure.

The Wakefield Biomedical Research Unit has made progress in identifying ‘factor X’ coming from the gut, which they believe triggers diabetes development. When identified this could pave the way for the development of drugs to prevent or cure Type 2 diabetes, which costs the NZ health system hundreds of millions annually.

The other area of research interest is bowel cancer, with New Zealand having one of the highest rates in the world. This work is identifying tumour proteins which are involved in the spread of cancer. These might be used for identifying those at risk of tumour recurrence, and/or for new drug development.

Professor Crampton says the relocated laboratory will also allow medical students to be involved in more basic science research through summer studentship research programmes, benefiting the future medical workforce and health care in New Zealand.

Scientists and clinicians associated with the Wakefield Unit have published over 50 papers in scientific and medical journals over the last decade.

The launch of the Wakefield Biomedical Research Unit will take place at the University of Otago, Wellington on Friday July 30 at 5.30pm.

A photograph of the new laboratory is available if needed through

For further information contact

Professor Richard Stubbs
Wakefield Biomedical Research Unit
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 64 4 381 8110

Professor Peter Crampton
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 64 4 918 6045


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