DZD Symposium at the German Congress of Endocrinology: Diabetes Research – Patient-Focused Precision Medicine

The identification of subgroups in diabetes and prediabetes, the development of new drugs for the treatment of obesity, insights into how lifestyle controls our genes – these are just some examples of research findings which in the future can benefit people with diabetes. At the German Congress of Endocrinology (March 16-19), researchers from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) will present "Diabetes Research – Patient-Focused Precision Medicine" in a symposium on March 17.

Cutout congress logo. © DGE/DVO

"The DZD researches and develops precise strategies for the prevention, early detection and treatment of people with prediabetes or diabetes," said Professor Michael Roden, who is co-chairing the DZD symposium with Professor Andreas Birkenfeld. "Our goal is to improve quality of life and reduce diabetes-related comorbidities, complications and premature mortality." In the symposium at the German Society of Endocrinology Congress, DZD researchers will present current research findings that may help to treat diabetes more precisely or even prevent it in the future.

"The DZD is the largest association of research centers in the field of diabetes research in Germany and combines all research approaches from basic research to translational research and large clinical trials. This makes it possible to rapidly translate new research findings into clinical applications to benefit patients with diabetes," added DGE Congress President Professor Jochen Seufert from Freiburg.

Subgroups in diabetes and prediabetes
Not all diabetes is the same. Studies show that there are different subgroups of the metabolic disease. In the German Diabetes Study of the DZD, different diabetes subgroups with different risks for secondary diseases could be identified. Depending on which subgroup a patient suffers from, he or she has a different risk of complications such as fatty liver and damage to the eyes, nerves or kidneys. The diabetes subgroups also differ in terms of inflammatory responses and the risk of erectile dysfunction. These research findings are important steps toward precision medicine for diabetes and its concomitant diseases.

Current studies also show that subgroups can already be identified in the preliminary stage of diabetes (prediabetes), which are clearly differentiated in terms of the development of the disease, the risk of type 2 diabetes and the development of secondary diseases. The new classification can help to prevent the development of diabetes or diabetes complications through targeted prevention.

New approaches in the pharmacotherapy of diabetes
Being significantly overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, it is not always possible to lose as much weight as desired by means of a healthy diet and more exercise. New active components (poly-agonists) that combine the effects of several hormones could help reduce body fat significantly more than previously available therapies. The hormones that are combined as dual or triple agonists are GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) and glucagon. In clinical trials, several drug candidates have already shown great promise for improving the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.  The first drug candidates have already successfully completed phase 3 trials and have now been submitted for regulatory approval.

Epigenetics – how lifestyle controls our genes 
It is not only the genetic code itself that influences the risk of diabetes; lifestyle can also influence the extent to which certain genes are activated (epigenetics). Studies show that dietary habits are encoded in the genetic material. DZD researchers have shown that a large part of these epigenetic changes can be corrected, for example, by weight loss as triggered after bariatric surgery. They are now working to develop treatments for epigenetically induced disorders.

Covid-19 and diabetes
Evaluations of current studies show that obesity, diabetes and high blood glucose levels increase the risk of severe courses of COVID-19. However, good blood glucose control can reduce the risk.

DZD Symposium: Diabetes Research – Patient-Focused Precision Medicine

March 17, 2022 from 1:30 pm

Chair: Prof. Dr. Andreas Birkenfeld (DZD speaker and scientific director of the Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic  Diseases (IDM) Helmholtz Munich) and Prof. Dr. Michael Roden (DZD executive board member and scientific director of the German Diabetes Center)

Diabetes Subgroups in Prediabetes
Prof. Dr. Robert Wagner, Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases (IDM) Helmholtz Munich

Diabetes Subgroups and Risk of Complications
Dr. Oana Patricia Zaharia, German Diabetes Center (DDZ)

New Approaches in the Pharmacotherapy of Diabetes
Dr. Timo Müller, director (acting) of the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity Helmholtz Munich

How Lifestyle Controls Our Genes – Epigenetic Changes through Exercise or Weight Loss
Prof. Dr. Annette Schürmann, DZD speaker and head of the Department of Experimental Diabetology at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke

Latest Research Findings on Covid 19 and Diabetes
Prof. Dr. Stefan R. Bornstein, Paul Langerhans Institute of Helmholtz Munich at the University Hospital and the  Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden