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New project to streamline diabetes research in Europe

28 April 2008, 17:50 CET
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Setting out a roadmap to guide diabetes research in Europe is the goal of a new EU-funded project called DIAMAP. The initiative, which is funded under the 'Health' theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will analyse the current state of diabetes research in Europe to identify strengths and weaknesses. On the basis of this survey, it will draw up a roadmap for diabetes research in Europe.

The two-year project is the brainchild of EURADIA, the Alliance for European Diabetes Research. The project committee includes leading experts on diabetes, diabetes patients and industry representatives.

They are inviting researchers and health professionals to provide input on their work for the DIAMAP research database. The project partners are also keen to involve people with diabetes and the wider public, to ensure that the project's outcomes correspond to the needs of people with diabetes.

The resulting roadmap will be of use to the European Commission, funding agencies, and research organisations wishing to build on the strengths and address the weaknesses of European diabetes research.

The EU already funds a number of research projects with a focus on diabetes. These have led to a number of breakthroughs in our understanding of the condition. For example, scientists from the EURODIA and EUGENE2 projects were recently involved in work which resulted in the discovery of six new genes associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile many more projects in the health field touch on diabetes in some way.

According to figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and World Health Organization (WHO), around 250 million people around the world have diabetes, a number which could rise to 380 million by 2025 if action is not taken. Diabetes kills 3.8 million people every year, and diabetes sufferers die between five and ten years earlier than those without the condition.

Factors contributing to this rise include growing obesity rates, sedentary lifestyles and stress. It is estimated that up to 80% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.

Those with the disease face an increased risk of a number of health problems. For example, those with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people without the disease.

Diabetics are also at increased risk of blindness, as the condition damages the blood vessels in their eyes. Called diabetic retinopathy, the condition is the leading cause of vision loss in working age adults in industrialised countries.

Diabetes is also behind over a million amputations every year, as a result of damage to the nerves leading to the hands and feet, combined with reduced blood flow to the extremities. Another problem facing diabetics is kidney damage; renal failure is responsible for the deaths of 10 to 20% of diabetics.

Managing these symptoms is an expensive business; the IDF estimates that treating and preventing diabetics is costing the world USD232 billion (€148 billion) every year, and as the number of diabetics goes up, so will the costs of treating them.

DIAMAP - Road Map for Diabetes Research in Europe

Source: Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS)

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