Impact on: diabetes

Over 33 million people in the EU suffer from diabetes, and the number is set to rise. 


What's the problem?

According to the International Diabetes Federation, about one in every ten people worldwide has diabetes, and that number is set to rise to one in eight by 2045. In the EU, more than 33 million people have diabetes.

Despite decades of research, there is still no cure for this chronic disease, and many patients still have to inject themselves with insulin to manage their condition. Left untreated, or poorly managed, diabetes can lead to severe complications, such as sight loss, nerve damage, kidney problems, heart attack and stroke. More research is needed to determine the relationships between diabetes onset and these adverse outcomes. More than 90% of patients have type 2 diabetes, which means that preventative measures and early interventions could be beneficial.


What are we doing about it? 

The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) is taking a cross-cutting approach by investigating the impact of diabetes as a risk factor for heart attacks. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has a strong diabetes project portfolio, with several projects addressing different aspects across the disease spectrum, covering type 1, type 2 and beyond. Some are studying the underlying causes of the disease and the internal processes that lead to the destruction of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Others aim to detect clues as to how the disease will progress in different patients. Finally, many projects focus on detecting, preventing and treating the complications associated with diabetes.


IHI / IMI research is...

…demystifying the biology of pancreatic beta cells, a root cause of diabetes A drop in insulin production by beta cells in the pancreas is the cause of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The IMIDIA project developed the first ever human pancreatic beta-cell line that can be studied in the lab, and made it available to the scientific community.
…finding ways to predict (and prevent) someone’s progression to type 1 diabetes The team behind INNODIA has built the infrastructure for carrying out clinical trials of diabetes drugs, including more efficient 'adaptive' trials that follow a master protocol 'blueprint', with one ongoing diabetes drug trial as a test case. The aim is to get better at generating the data and insights needed to lead to new and better treatments, and their work is already changing the way we predict and measure the progression of type 1 diabetes. INNODIA HARVEST is using the clinical network to run 3 clinical trials of potential medicines intended to predict, slow and stop the disease. . A new non-profit, INNODIA iVZW, has been set up to continue the work of INNODIA and INNODIA HARVEST past the projects’ ends.
…identifying different sub-types of diabetes, as well as predicting who might get diabetes and how they will respond to certain drugs The projects DIRECTRHAPSODYBEAT-DKDSUMMIT and IMIDIA have collectively shown that despite causing common symptoms, type 2 diabetes can look very different under the surface. They discovered tell-tale biomarkers for blood sugar deterioration and developed tests that can predict who will get diabetes, whose condition will deteriorate quickly, and who is likely to respond well to certain drugs. RHAPSODY, in collaboration with BEAT-DKD, defined 5 distinct subgroups of type 2 diabetes, while BEAT-DKD generated new insights into how diabetic kidney disease develops and how patients respond to treatment. Hypo-RESOLVE is answering crucial questions about hypoglycaemia, a common and serious diabetes complication that causes huge problems for patients.
…exploring the relationship between diabetes and weight
SOPHIA is looking closely at the links between obesity and diabetes, in particular T1, which is often overlooked. They are working on improving predictions of who will get certain complications and who will respond best to different obesity treatments, while also focussing on changing the outdated way we think about obesity to improve the quality of care.
‌...examining the impact that complications arising from diabetes can have Hypo-RESOLVE is answering crucial questions about hypoglycaemia, a common and serious diabetes complication that causes huge problems for patients. Diabetic patients are 2.5 times more likely to develop heart failure than people without diabetes, but the causes of cardiomyopathy are as yet unknown. CARDIATEAM is investigating this type of heart failure and seeking to find biomarkers to indicate which diabetic patients are at risk of this type of heart attack.