DZD at the DDG Diabetes Congress: New Approaches to Diabetes Prevention

In Germany, about half a million people are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year. But how can the disease be treated or even prevented? At the DZD, specialists from various disciplines work together to develop individualized approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and thus combat the widespread disease. In various symposia at the Diabetes Congress, DZD researchers will present current highlights of their work. One focus is on new approaches to prevent type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
[Translate to Englisch:]   Interessenten informieren sich am Stand des DZD über Diabetesforschung.

Conference attendees at the DZD booth informing themselves about diabetes research. Source: Ulrike Schacht/DZD

Can type 1 diabetes be prevented in the future?

Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence. Most often, a misdirected immune response to insulin initiates the onset of the development of type 1 diabetes. With a new immunotherapy, researchers want to prevent the severe metabolic disease from breaking out. Children who are at an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes receive a small amount of insulin powder per day with a meal. The goal is to train the immune system to tolerate the body's own insulin. In the session Immunotherapy of Type 1 Diabetes, DZD experts will present current research results and new studies on immune modulation. (May 12th, 11:00 am)

Prevention of type 2 diabetes

Almost every third person worldwide is obese. As a consequence, more and more people also suffer from diseases that are associated with pathological obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, heart attack or stroke. Despite the known health risks, only some of those affected try to lose weight. Many people are intimidated by the large weight loss required. Researchers at the DZD have shown in a study that metabolically healthy obesity could be a worthwhile initial treatment goal.1
In the session Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes they will report on "Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention – Metabolically Unhealthy and Healthy Obesity".

A conventional lifestyle intervention is not sufficient to prevent type 2 diabetes in all people with prediabetes. Here only an individually coordinated prevention can take effect. In the multicenter Prediabetes Lifestyle Intervention Study (PLIS), the DZD has set itself the goal of developing such personalized preventive measures. DZD researchers will present the results of the study for the first time at the symposium Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes (May 11th, 10:30 am).

Influence of epigenetic changes on diabetes

Recent studies show that unhealthy diets can alter important molecular switches in the genome. These epigenetic changes can even be inherited. Epigenetic information is mediated by methyl groups or other biomolecules that, like chemical locks, deny access to certain DNA sequences or release them, thus allowing their activation. In the session Epigenetic Contribution to Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes (May 10th, 8:30 am) experts will report which epigenetic changes lead to obesity and diabetes.

Translational basic research on type 2 diabetes

Basic research is an important prerequisite for the development of new prevention approaches and therapies. Personalized medical strategies require detailed knowledge of genetics and metabolic pathways both at the level of the cell and of the entire organism. Scientists will present current findings from translational basic research of type 2 diabetes on May 10th at 10:30 am.

Organ cross-talk – how organs interact in diabetes development

Various organs play a role in the development of diabetes. Especially fatty liver has a key role in the development of the disease. Among other things, it increasingly produces liver proteins (hepatokines) and thus interacts with other organs. In the session on organ cross-talk (May 10th,  4:00 pm, experts will report on the role of hepatokines in metabolism and present current results on the organ cross-talk between liver, pancreas and beta cells. (May 10th,  4:00 pm)

The brain as control center of the metabolism

Studies in recent years verify that the brain is an insulin-sensitive organ. A number of brain areas react to insulin, such as areas that are important for food intake, metabolism and memory. The influence of the effect of insulin in the brain on metabolism and cognition will be the focus of the session The Brain and Diabetes (May 11th, 10:30 am)

Islet cells play an important role in the development of diabetes. DZD researchers are studying islet cells of mice, pigs and humans. Current results will be presented in the session Lessons from Transcriptomics of Islets.

Interesting information, an interactive quiz and explanatory films on the subject of diabetes – that and much more will be on offer at the DZD stand at the Diabetes Congress.


1) Stefan N, Häring H-U, Schulze MB. Metabolically healthy obesity: the low-hanging fruit in obesity treatment? Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2017.