The program is centered around a few important research areas reflecting different aspects of diabetes.
Islet Cell Biology
Complex molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of human islet cell function and survival under physiological conditions in vivo will be determined to identify the role of the islet cell in diabetes pathogenesis. We will identify novel targets for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and predictive markers for beta cell function and survival in islet transplantation in Type 1 diabetes.
Peripheral Mechanisms Controlling Insulin Action and Energy Homeostasis
This program is focused on defining the physiological role of novel and previously identified candidate genes/proteins linked to Type 2 diabetes. Model organisms will be used to assess the functional role of these targets in Type 2 diabetes pathogenesis. Detailed metabolic studies will be performed to determine genotype/phenotype interactions and to identify diabetes risk-factors. This information is valuable for developing therapies and improving public health interventions through population screening programs.
b) Inter- and Intra-Cellular and Organ Communication
Intercellular and intracellular communication within and between organs is fundamental for the control of glucose and lipid homeostasis in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This strategic area is designed to identify and integrate inter- and intra-cellular signaling pathways controlling glucose and lipid homeostasis with the aim to validate diabetes prevention and treatment targets.
c) Energy Intake and Expenditure
Obesity, inadequate nutrition, and lack of physical activity are major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, and consequently this is becoming an emerging challenge for the Swedish health care system. We will identify and characterize the molecular and physiological mechanism by which diet, weight loss, and exercise improve insulin sensitivity to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes and its complications.
Macro- and Micro-Vascular Complications
Chronic complications including coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (macrovascular disease), as well as nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy (microvascular disease) are responsible for most of the morbidity and mortality in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The goal is to establish gene expression signatures and to validate clinical surrogate biomarkers for disease staging for diabetes-related complications. Appropriate models to study the pathophysiology and treatment of diabetic complications will be generated.
The translation of basic research efforts into novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of diabetes and its complications is an ultimate goal. We will extend and refine existing infrastructure to facilitate the capacity for clinical research and trials, initiate pre-clinical studies of promising new pharmacological, gene and cell therapy, and unravel the mechanism of action of these approaches to prevent and treat diabetes and its complications.