DRWF Research Manager Dr Eleanor Kennedy reports from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal.
Day 2 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference dawns bright and sunny. The mighty Tagus River shimmers on my right as I travel towards the conference centre for another day of exciting research talks.
For me, the highlight of the day is right at the other end of the day. A barnstorming talk from Dr Philipp Scherer on the role of the fat cell, or adipocyte, in diabetes and beyond. He is this year’s recipient of the EASD-Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence. This is a relatively new award lecture aimed at showcasing the work of a researcher who has transformed our thinking about diabetes.
Dr Scherer explains how, although originally thought of as a by-product of our more sedentary lives nowadays, fat is actually a very metabolically active tissue secreting hormones and playing potentially important roles in the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as diabetes.
The second day of the conference also saw the results of the Acarbose Cardiovascular Evaluation (ACE) trial unveiled.
This large study, started in 2009 and completed earlier this year, was a placebo-controlled, cardiovascular outcomes trial involving over 6,000 patients with coronary artery disease and impaired glucose regulation in China.
The main outcome of the trial – or primary endpoint - was a complex, five-point composite outcome of cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke, hospitalisation for unstable angina or hospitalisation for heart failure in the two groups of patients.
Unfortunately, the trial demonstrated no reduction with acarbose in the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.
When large clinical trials like ACE do not demonstrate any difference in the study drug compared to the placebo, it can be disappointing. However, every trial, whether the result is positive or negative, tells us something and informs us about what drugs can be used safely. ACE provides reassurance that acarbose can be used safely to improve blood glucose levels in people with coronary heart disease and impaired glucose regulation with no significant impact on rates of cardiovascular complications or heart failure.
Afterwards, as thousands of delegates meander out into the evening sun at the end of this second day, the place is buzzing with new conversations and new knowledge. And, in the bars and restaurants of Lisbon tonight, the details of all of today’s research talks will be teased apart and discussed. Who knows, perhaps new collaborations will be forged that could lead to the next big discovery in the treatment of diabetes?