Diabetes mellitus, with about 8 million patients and probably an equal number whose disease has not been diagnosed or who are at high risk for diabetes (pre-diabetes), is one of the most prevalent common diseases in Germany. Estimates of the United Nations predict that by the year 2025 the number of diabetics will have increased worldwide from currently 250 million by more than 50% percent to about 380 million. Diabetes has therefore been declared a global threat to humanity.
With annual costs of more than 30 billion euros, diabetes ranks as one of the most cost-intensive areas in our health system. The suffering of the affected individuals is extremely high, especially due to secondary diseases. In the face of a steady increase in the number of cases, new research approaches are urgently needed. The primary goals of diabetes research are the development of individualized prediction of disease in people with high risk, individualized prevention in pre-diabetics and finally, a personalized treatment and prevention of complications in diabetes patients. In addition, intensive basic research shall provide new targets for future therapies through the elucidation of pathogenic mechanisms.
Despite worldwide research, these objectives have thus far only been rudimentarily achieved. One of the reasons is the failure to understand the pathogenesis of diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a very complex interaction of genetic factors with environmental conditions and is thus a classic research subject in ‘Environmental Health’. Diet and exercise play a significant role, but recently researchers have discovered indications of other influencing factors such as air pollution or exposure to so-called 'endocrine disruptors'.
Helmholtz Zentrum München is involved in a large number of innovative research projects and collaborations in the global diabetes research effort and intends to further expand this research focus next year. The research concentration on diabetes was further strengthened through the national German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), in which Helmholtz Zentrum München is a driving force and important partner.
Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp
Helmholtz Zentrum München and TU München
The thematic field Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases is represented by the following institutes and research units:
- Institute of Diabetes and Obesity (IDO)
Research Unit Neurobiology of Diabetes (NBD)
- Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases (IDM)
- Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF)
- Institute of Experimental Genetics (IEG)
Genome Analysis Center (GAC)
- Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research (IDR)
- Research Unit of Comparative Medicine (AVM)
- Institute for Diabetes and Cancer (IDC)
- Institute of Pancreatic Islet Research (IPI)