Report from Day One of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2019
Type 2 diabetes and young people – a growing problem
Another topic that Professor Kahn touches on and one that is highlighted in other talks across Day One is the growing problem of type 2 diabetes in youth. The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study has shown an increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes particularly in Native American and non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic communities.
Obese youth with early type 2 diabetes are more insulin resistant and have hyper-responsive beta cells compared to adults with similar glucose tolerance profiles and, interestingly, the insulin resistance in these obese youth is unresponsive to metformin alone. And, again, in contrast to adults, despite medical intervention, in youth, beta cell dysfunction progressed significantly throughout the study.
By the time I limp into one of the last sessions of the days, we have covered almost every aspect of diabetes treatment and management at some point during the day but, in keeping with the lecture that kicked off this year’s EASD conference, I look into beta cell replacement.
As Professor Kahn’s lecture stressed the decline of the beta cell, I finish with beta cell replacement and another prize lecture.
Beta cell replacement
The recipient of this year’s Albert Renold is Professor Timo Otonkoski from the University of Helsinki in Finland. Professor Otonkoski is a former member of the Research Advisory Board for our sister organisation, Diabetes Wellness Sverige in Sweden. His elegant work on stem cells includes work on human embryonic stem cells which are still the gold standard of human pluripotent stem cells and which have clinical therapeutic applications in a number of different disease areas as well as induced pluripotent stem cells, a much newer stem cell model.
Professor Otonkoski’s research encourages me that, yes, whilst we know that the beta cell in decline is at the heart of type 2 diabetes, there are so many additional strands of research being woven together to give us a more in-depth understanding of what is fundamentally driving this decline and how we can, perhaps, overcome it. But it is the drive of the researchers involved in all of the work that I have heard presented today that has impressed me so much.
So, roll on, Day Two, Barcelona! You already have much to live up to!
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