Berlin – May2014. Currently the world of national diabetes research is meeting at the Congress of the German Diabetes Association (DDG) in Berlin. The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is represented at the three-day congress with numerous lectures and poster presentations. The DZD researchers are presenting their latest research results from the laboratory and clinic, such as the role of epigenetics in the development of type 2 diabetes or new therapeutic approaches to combat obesity and diabetes.
Numerous scientists of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) are presenting their latest research results to the almost 6000 colleagues, physicians and medical professionals in Berlin. The presentations focus on diabetes risk as well as personalized prevention and therapy of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Prof. Martin Hrabĕ de Angelis, a board member of the DZD and director of the Institute of Experimental Genetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München, and Prof. Matthias Tschöp, head of the DZD research program for the development of new therapies and director of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center at Helmholtz Zentrum München, offered in a press conference a perspective of the possible medicine of tomorrow. On this occasion they presented visionary concepts that are currently being studied in the laboratories of the DZD.Inherited diabetes riskRecent studies of the DZD underscore the importance of epigenetics as a building block in the development of type 2 diabetes. An increased risk of diabetes is inherited by so-called epigenetic changes to the DNA, without affecting the genetic code per se, as Martin Hrabĕ de Angelis and his DZD team demonstrated in mice. Via sperm and egg cells, information was passed on from diabetic mice. If a fatty diet was consumed, this information resulted in even more pronounced diabetes in the offspring than in the parents. Hrabĕ de Angelis explained: “The reasons for the rapid increase of those affected with type 2 diabetes in the past 20 years can only be explained in part by an unfavorable lifestyle. And for the development of diabetes risk genes the time period is far too short. Therefore, the potential role of epigenetic changes is increasingly becoming our focus of research as diabetes scientists.”Treating diabetes with a pill instead of a scalpelObesity, by definition extreme overweight, is one of the main risk factors of type 2 diabetes. Often, the only effective treatment is to use the scalpel. In a gastric bypass, the esophagus is connected directly to the intestine. In most patients, such a bypass not only reduces the mass of body fat after a certain time, already immediately after the operation blood glucose levels become normalized. A diabetes drug therapy is no longer required. “We now know that this phenomenon has to do with the gastrointestinal signals to the brain. This opens up new therapeutic options in which we copy these signals with drugs and thus perhaps in the future avoid major surgery,” said Matthias Tschöp, offering a possible future perspective. Together with his colleagues from the DZD, a group of researchers in the U.S. and an industry partner, he was able to develop such a molecule that has also been proven in a first clinical trial in humans. In the mouse the DZD scientists are already a bit further; they can already cure obesity and diabetes with this new therapeutic approach.Excellent research“In the German Center for Diabetes Research clinicians and basic scientists work closely together. This interdisciplinary environment offers great conditions for the development of individualized prevention strategies and tailored, causal therapies,” said Martin Hrabĕ de Angelis. The attendees of the congress showed great interest in these research results. The research achievements of Dr. Barbara Ludwig of the Paul Langerhans Institute at the University of Dresden, a partner in the DZD, in the field of beta cell transplantation were honored with the Ernst-Friedrich Pfeiffer Prize 2014. PD Dr. Natalia Rudovich, will receive a Menarini grant for her research, which shall be conducted at the DZD partner institute, the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE). Under the motto “Joint Research for a Future without Diabetes”, five partners are collaborating in the German Center for Diabetes Research: Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf and the Universities of Tübingen and Dresden.