Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges facing Qatar and the world today. With a prevalence of nearly 20% among the Qatari population, diabetes has become one of the cornerstones of both the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 and the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS). As an integral part of QBRI, a newly established national institute, the Diabetic Research Center (DRC) was created to serve as a catalyst to promote innovative research on both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders. The primary goal is to gain fundamental knowledge and enhance the understanding of social, molecular and genetic causes of the disease. Such efforts will pave the way for the identification of therapeutic targets and the development of novel therapies and treatment modalities for this globally devastating disease.
The scope of research activities conducted by leading-edge independent scientists of DRC ranges from basic to applied and clinical research on diabetes and its related complications, using biological samples from diabetic individuals as well as those prone to develop diabetes. Research carried out at the DRC is focused on identifying genetic, molecular and lifestyle factors involved in the development of various forms of diabetes within the population of Qatar. It will implement and sustain research protocols by fostering interactions and collaborations amongst researchers and healthcare workers at regional, national, and international levels.
More specifically, members of the DRC are undertaking a holistic approach to dissect the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways leading to insulin resistance, β-cell dysfunction, and diabetes. This is facilitated by the setup of latest techniques and technologies, including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics to identify dysregulated genes and pathways within those affected.
The center also pursues the use of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying diabetes, insulin resistance and β-cell integrity and function. Patient-specific iPSCs are being used as tools to investigate mechanisms and pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of specific forms of diabetes and insulin resistance as well as to screen novel drugs and therapies for the treatment of the disease.