Appointment of Anna Maria Novials, Group leader
The treatment or the purported cure for diabetes will only advance with the search for the molecular causes of the disease

Current research

Problem

Diabetes is a disease characterised by chronic hyperglycaemia (high levels of glucose in the blood), due to a defect in the secretion and/or the action of insulin. Today it is a serious global health problem due to its prevalence (more than 425 million people are affected), its economic cost and the number of deaths it causes due to the complications that arise. Similarly, there is an increase in the number of young people suffering from it. Therefore, it is necessary to know the mechanisms that trigger it and to establish new strategies for prevention and treatment.

Approach

Combining clinical and basic research, the group conducts studies in animal models and in humans to better understand diabetes and to create innovative methods of treatment and prevention. Its lines of research focus on preventing and controlling diabetes with lifestyle interventions; the search for markers to predict the development of diabetes and the complications that arise from it; the study of endothelial dysfunction related to diabetes and vascular complications and the molecular mechanisms of deterioration of b-pancreatic cells during the disease’s progression; as well as the search for therapeutic targets.

Impact

The group has identified molecules, called microRNAs, that appear altered in the blood of prediabetic patients. This will allow it to advance in treatments that anticipate and prevent the onset of diabetes and related complications.

Several studies by the group have found that there are certain molecules called chaperones that protect b-pancreatic cells and this opens the door to their use for the treatment of diabetes.

The group has also tracked the eating patterns and physical exercise of patients with type 1 diabetes to help them improve control over the disease and, therefore, their quality of life.