Dr Rebecca Lim
Falls and imbalance are prevalent in people with diabetes. The impact of falls can have devastating consequences on the quality of life for the patient. Diabetic falls and imbalance are commonly attributed to nerve damage and loss, and vision problems. Evidence is beginning to suggest, however, that the organs of balance might also be adversely affected in diabetes.
The balance organs are located in the inner ear and respond to head movements. Inside the balance organs there are specialised inner ear fluids that are very important for normal function. The composition of these fluids is tightly regulated by proteins found within the inner ear. Surprisingly, these same proteins are found in the pancreas and are necessary for glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. In diabetes, these proteins no longer function properly. We propose that the same proteins are also impaired in the inner ear during diabetes and may account for balance dysfunction in diabetic patients. This project will test balance function in type II diabetic patients. We will also investigate the function of proteins that regulate inner ear fluid composition in a diabetic mouse model.