What's the problem?
According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes (type 1 and 2) currently affects 463 million adults, and by 2045 this will rise to 700 million. Despite decades of research, there is still no cure for diabetes, and many patients still have to inject themselves with insulin to manage their condition.
What is IMI doing about it?
IMI has a strong diabetes project portfolio, with several projects addressing different aspects across the disease spectrum, covering T1, T2 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.
Our 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 took our understanding of their biology to the next level by deeply examining the underlying molecular mechanisms of changes that lead to human beta-cell dysfunction. They 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.
|…identifying hidden sub-types of diabetes||
The projects DIRECT, RHAPSODY, BEAT-DKD, SUMMIT 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.|
Spot it, slow it, and stop it: trials of potential diabetes drugs have been designed according to the INNODIA project's regulator-approved master protocol.
IMIDIA identified and validated a human beta cell line that behaves in the lab in the same way as the cells found in the human body. Pancreatic islet beta cells are thought to be the culprit behind the development of type 2 diabetes.
RHAPSODY identified subgroups that divide type 2 diabetes patients into those with severe autoimmune diabetes, those with severe insulin deficiency, those with severe insulin resistance, and those whose diabetes is mild and linked to obesity or age.
SUMMIT developed an ultrasound device capable of identifying patients at imminent risk of a heart attack or stroke, two common complications of diabetes.
INNODIA have shown that cytokines modify the chromosomes of pancreatic beta cells in a way that alters the activity of several genes thought to be involved in diabetes, and this is relevant for other autoimmune diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis (MS), and rheumatoid arthritis.
Building on ground-breaking results from IMI diabetes projects, scientists from BEAT-DKD are working on a software tool that would identify what subtype of diabetes a patient has, and suggest which treatment would work best for them