DZD at DDG: How Bundling Research Endeavors Can Bring About Advances in Diabetes Research

Under the motto “Diabetology – Interdisciplinary”, the Diabetes Congress 2016 of the German Diabetes Society (DDG) is currently taking place (May 4-7, 2016) in Berlin. The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is presenting its interdisciplinary, translational research in numerous lectures and poster presentations: Is diabetes predetermined in our genes? What role does the lifestyle of the parents play for the inheritance of risk factors? What is the connection between the liver, the brain and diabetes?

“What makes research in the DZD special is the close collaboration of the scientists from the partner institutes with different research interests. This is our guarantor for innovative research approaches such as the epigenetic inheritance of the consequences of lifestyle or the role of the brain in metabolism,” said Professor Martin Hrabě de Angelis, speaker and board member of the DZD and director of the Institute of Experimental Genetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München and professor at Technische Universität München. Selected research highlights will be presented at the Diabetes Congress in two DZD symposia.

Diabetes – congenital or acquired?
Both lifestyle and genes contribute to the risk of diabetes. In inheritance, however, not only the genetic code itself plays a role. Metabolic disorders acquired through faulty nutrition can be inherited epigenetically. The lifestyle of the parents prior to conception may consequently affect the offspring.
Besides the pancreas, other organs are also affected by a disturbed glucose metabolism. Thus, the liver and the brain play a key role in the development of diabetes. Professor Michael Roden, DZD board member and scientific director of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, said, “Our goal is to better understand the crosstalk of all involved organs in order to develop new approaches for prevention and therapy.” Results from Tübingen show that intranasal insulin acts in certain areas of the brain that regulate metabolism and eating behavior. Thus, in healthy subjects, intranasal insulin improves insulin sensitivity throughout the body. It also reduces the storage of fat in the liver, which was shown in a joint study in Düsseldorf. However, overweight people and patients with type 2 diabetes do not react accordingly. This points to a defect of insulin action.

Together against diabetes
In order to study different types of diabetes (type 2, type 3c) or diabetes precursors, a unique collection of human pancreatic tissue is currently being created, in close collaboration with the IMI-IMIDIA consortium. This will offer the possibility for the first time to compare tissue samples from patients and from healthy subjects. “The Human Islet Biobank provides a particularly valuable basis for exploring the biology of beta cells,” said Professor Michele Solimena, board member of the DZD and director of the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden. Another data trove is provided by the samples of the three large DZD multicenter studies on diabetes prevention, diabetes sequelae and gestational diabetes, which can only be carried out through the collaboration of the centers.
By bundling research endeavors and by collaborating closely with leading German diabetes research institutions, the DZD has succeeded in advancing translational diabetes research with a variety of successful, innovative research approaches and has achieved promising results in Germany for “a future without diabetes”.

Excellent research honored
At the Congress, the research achievements of DZD scientists will be honored with prestigious DDG awards:
• Prof. Dr. Annette Schürmann, DZD speaker and head of the Department of Experimental Diabetology at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE) will receive the Werner Creutzfeldt Prize.
• PD Dr. Martin Heni of the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University of Tübingen will receive a Menarini Project Grant of the DDG.
• PD Dr. Christian Herder of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf (DDZ) will receive the Hans Christian Hagedorn Project Grant.
• Dr. Bengt-Frederik Belgardt of the DDZ is the recipient of the Hellmut Mehnert Project Grant.

Promotion of young scientists
For talented young scientists there will be a special program, which is supported by the DZD. The young scientists will have mentors during the Congress, and they will be able to exchange ideas with other young scientists in the symposium “Young Diabetology”.
Another opportunity for exchange is at the DZD stand in the Diabetes Forum. Also represented at the stand are the Diabetes Information Service (DID) from Düsseldorf and the Diabetes Information Service Munich. The stand is a popular contact point both for scientists and doctors as well as medical professionals. There the DZD is presenting the beta online version – updated and optimized for mobile devices – of the DIfE – GERMAN DIABETES RISK TEST®, which was developed by the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE)

Further Information (German only)