Around 120 diabetes patients, family members and other interested individuals took the opportunity to ask PLID scientists and physicians questions about the causes of diabetes and its prevention and treatment. In the accompanying industry exhibit the attendees also learned about new developments in medical devices and products and could have their blood glucose level measured in the infomobile of the NRW German Diabetes Aid – People with Diabetes.
After the warm welcome by the two organizers, Prof. Michele Solimena and Dr. Egon Hohenberger, the State Minister for Science and the Arts of the Free State of Saxony, Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, spoke about the alarming prevalence of diabetes particularly in Saxony and praised the commitment of all participants to counteract this trend. She emphasized the importance of this, stating that Dresden as research location with its dedicated translational approach would provide a very good basis. Prof. D. Michael Albrecht, medical director of the University Hospital, also gave a welcome address.
The program of the 2nd Middle German diabetes Day featured presentations by experienced PLID scientists, who focused on topics such as the loss of beta cell function and thus the causes of diabetes mellitus, prevention strategies, as well as current treatment options. Prof. Andreas Birkenfeld discussed the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and, using PowerPoint slides as illustration, showed how insulin resistance develops. He explained the role that macro and micro vascular complications play as well as different therapeutic approaches, including the latest drugs such as GLP1R agonists or SGLT2 inhibitors.
In her presentation, PD Dr. Barbara Ludwig showed very clearly that not only the intake of carbohydrates or fats has a direct impact on blood glucose levels, but also various endogenous hormones (e.g. sex hormones), biorhythm, emotions as well as stress play a role in blood glucose regulation. She also presented various surgical options for the treatment of diabetes, which range from the transplantation of the entire pancreas, the infusion of purified beta cells from donor organs to the development of artificial pancreases.
Dr. Stephan Speier focused in his presentation on the functional units of insulin production, the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. He showed that the goal of research on beta cells is not only to increase insulin secretion, but in particular the protection of the beta cells themselves. Dr. Speier discussed the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine to restore lost cell functions. He emphasized the great therapeutic potential of this cell type, but said that it currently does not come into question for use in humans not only because it is extremely laborious and expensive, but also because there is a potential risk of tumor formation.
The last presentation by Prof. Peter Schwarz focused initially on the economic damage. He explained that the economic damage caused by chronic diseases such as diabetes is about eight times higher than that caused by the current economic crisis. In conclusion, Prof. Schwarz encouraged the attendees to become more physically active. It would be sufficient to take more steps in one’s daily activities, at best 10,000 steps per day. Chronically ill people move four times less than healthy people, and 1,000 extra steps per day reduce postprandial glucose levels by 1.5mmol/L, a value comparable to the effect of one metaformin dose. In addition, Prof. Schwarz made clear that the culprit is not subcutaneous fat, but metabolically active, visceral fat (particularly hepatic fat) that reduces insulin action and thus promotes type 2 diabetes.
Following a light snack in the foyer of the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, the attendees could take part in workshops on the topics of basal bolus therapy with the pen, CSII insulin pump treatment as well as blood glucose monitoring, devices, and possibilities for errors in continuous glucose monitoring systems.