The advances in basic and clinical research in diabetes meet in Barcelona

About 20,000 diabetologists will attend the 49th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), to be held in Barcelona from 23rd to 27th September. Although millions of people suffer it, there are many aspects of the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus in its two forms , type 1 and type 2, which are still unknown. At the Annual Meeting of the EASD the most important advances in all lines of diabetes research will be discussed. The local organizing committee, chaired by Dr. Ramon Gomis, director of IDIBAPS, is made up of doctors and researchers from Hospital Clínic - IDIBAPS. This research center and hospital have a long career in diabetes research, both basic and clinical . Dr. Ignacio Conget and Dr. Anna Novials, endocrinologists at IDIBAPS-Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and members of the local organizing committee, participated in a press meeting to present the congress with Dr. Ramon Gomis and Dr. Viktor Jörgens, Executive Director of EASD and its Foundation.

The President of the EASD, Prof. Andrew J.M. Boulton, will open the inaugural meeting at the Claude Bernard Hall, welcoming 20,000 physicians and scientists from over 120 countries. Since then, researchers from academia and the pharmaceutical industry around the world will present new developments in fields such as epidemiology, prevention, therapeutic education, health organization, basic and clinical research. It is therefore a very significant conference for diabetes, for the promotion and international expansion of the city of Barcelona and for Catalonia biomedical research as a whole.

It is estimated that diabetes affects over six and a half million people in Spain , and about one million people in Catalonia. The disease and its complications, including heart disease, blindness and kidney and nervous system damage are acquiring epidemic proportions at a great social and economic cost. So diabetes is a disease that requires great attention by the scientific community as well as by the society and its political representatives.

In the clinical section, the results and repercussions of two large clinical studies should be underlined. The first one is the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS ), which initial results were also presented in Barcelona in 1998 as part of the same conference with a major impact on the management of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, the impact of the DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial) conducted in patients with type 1 diabetes, which established the modern management paradigms for this disease, will also be reviewed and updated.

In the area of basic research there are many areas of interest, including the influence of the environment on the disease and the new experimental cell therapy strategies. It is increasingly clear that a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, having some exercise and avoiding toxics is helpful to prevent and manage diseases like diabetes. Epigenetic studies begin to explain the molecular causes of these beneficial effects. The discovery of processes which allow the regeneration of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells also provides important information for the design of new therapeutic strategies.

Finally, diabetes is also raises public health and policy questions, and the meeting represents a platform to discuss these social interest issues. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission will be represented in the symposia, to discuss the future prospects of research funding and the approval of new drugs in Europe. On the other hand, the meeting is a meeting point for diabetologists and diabetes patients who work together to improve education and patient care. Patient associations are particularly active and have a great presence in the Congress.

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