Identifying the aetiology of diabetic progenitor cell dysfunction in osteoporosis

Diabetes changes how a person's body gets energy from the food they eat. When we digest food, sugar is released into the blood and is used by the body's cells for energy. People with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) do not produce insulin and are therefore not able to use the sugar in the blood for energy. Patients with T1DM have to inject synthetic insulin approximately 4 times per day to maintain an average blood sugar level. Individuals with T1DMalso have a particularly high risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition when the bones do not retain the minerals they need for strength, making them more likely to fracture. These injuries are difficult to heal, resulting in long term disability and impacting daily activities such as walking or working. Scientists are not entirely sure what the link is between T1DM and osteoporosis. In this project, we aim to understand the molecular differences between the healthy and diabetic bone marrow cells responsible for maintaining bone health. If we know how the healthy cells support bone quality and where the diabetic cells are deficient, we can then use this information to replace molecules missing in the diabetic cells making them more similar to healthy cells. The diabetic cells may then be able to maintain bone health as they would in a non-diabetic person. In a laboratory setting, mice are used to simulate the human experience. Like diabetic people, diabetic mice also have poor bone quality. We aim to give the "new and improved" diabetic cells to mice with poor bone quality to look for an improvement in bone health. The long-term goal is to use this knowledge to enhance bone quality for diabetic patients, but this approach might also help diabetic patients experiencing kidney disease, nerve damage, heart disease, and vision loss.


Award Date
30 June 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Timothy O'Brien
Host Institution
National University of Ireland, Galway
MRCG-HRB Joint Funding Scheme