Māori Health Postdoctoral Fellowship

Dr Jonni Koia
University of Waikato
Te reo tipu - a bittersweet quest for new anti-diabetic agents in rongoā rākau
48 months

Lay summary

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is particularly prevalent among Māori. Many type 2 diabetics use healthy eating, exercise and drugs to help control blood glucose levels. The common anti-diabetic drugs are associated with side effects such as weight gain, heart failure and fluid retention. Thus, there is a need to find new anti-diabetic agents that target insulin resistance that is a feature of T2D. Additionally, for Māori there is evidence that culturally relevant management approaches provide better outcomes. An understudied possibility is traditional rongoā rākau (Māori herbal medicine) with known anti-diabetic efficacy. Although New Zealand contains a rich unique flora collection, rongoā rākau have not yet been clinically evaluated for its use in T2D treatment. In this study, cell-culture screening and animal model systems will be explored to determine the anti-diabetic efficacy of a number of rongoā rākau known to traditionally treat T2D, and mātauranga Māori will be safeguarded through working with relevant Māori community.

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