The DZD at the DAG Congress: New Approaches to Obesity Prevention and Therapy

At the 31st annual meeting of the German Obesity Society (DAG) in Berlin on October 15-17, 2015, researchers of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) presented their latest research results on the prevention and treatment of obesity. Two prizes of the DAG were awarded to DZD scientists.

Professor Hans Hauner of Technische Universität München received the DAG medal for his obesity research. The initiative "SMS. Be smart. Join in. Be fit." led by Professor Karsten Müssig of the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) to prevent obesity in children was awarded the DAG Prevention Prize.

New therapies in development
In the DZD session, Dr. Heike Vogel of the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE) presented a new active substance – a combination molecule of GLP-1 and estrogen. Both hormones are known to improve glucose metabolism and protect the beta cells. The hybrid molecule made the obese mice have less appetite and lose weight.
In the regulation of body weight, ceramides also play a role, as Dr. Diana Willmes of the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden (PLID) explained. Ceramides also have an impact on insulin sensitivity. Thus, ceramide synthase 6 (CERS6) expression in white adipose tissue correlates with obesity and insulin resistance. Inhibiting CerS6 could therefore be a new therapeutic approach.

Importance of insulin action
Dr. Martin Heni from Tübingen provided insights into insulin action in the brain. His research group at the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases (IDM) has been studying whether insulin administered as nasal spray influences the effect of this hormone in the rest of the body. Insulin administered in this form does not pass into the rest of the body; nevertheless an increase in insulin sensitivity in the body could be measured. However, the insulin spray only led to improved insulin sensitivity in individuals of normal weight, not in overweight individuals – an indication that reduced insulin action in the brain contributes to insulin resistance in obesity.

Disease-relevant genes decrypted
Dr. Jan Rozmann presented the research work of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), in which Helmholtz Zentrum München is involved. The objective is to decipher the functions of disease-related genes in mice. New findings are continuously being added to the body of knowledge and made available to the scientific community free of charge via the website They represent a valuable treasure trove of data for research into metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.