DIRECT – Working Together in the Fight against Diabetes

Neuherberg, 09.03.2012.
Personalized medicine in the field of diabetes is the goal of DIRECT*, a joint initiative of partners from academia and the pharmaceutical industry, including Helmholtz Zentrum München. The project, which is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI*), was officially launched on February 1, 2012. Altogether, 45 million euros have been provided to advance the development of diabetes drugs and therapies. Of this sum, 2.4 million euros have been allocated to Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Diabetes mellitus, as a major disease that is widespread in the population, is one of the key research areas of Helmholtz Zentrum München. For this reason, Helmholtz Zentrum München is one of 21 academic and four pharmaceutical institutions participating in the DIRECT* initiative.

The objective of DIRECT* is to define various subtypes of type 2 diabetes mellitus, to identify and develop biomarkers or tests for early diagnosis and to derive personalized treatment strategies. To achieve this, 150 scientists from nine research areas will join forces to evaluate genetic and phenotypic data from more than 100,000 samples of type 2 diabetes patients. The seven-year project is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

At Helmholtz Zentrum München, the institutes and departments foremost engaged in the initiative are the Genome Analysis Center headed by Prof. Dr. Jerzy Adamski, the Department of Molecular Epidemiology under Acting Department Head Prof. Dr. Annette Peters and the research group Diabetic Epidemiology with its group leader, Dr. Barbara Thorand. Their goal is to focus on genomic, epigenomic and metabolic research questions and to advance the selection and validation of diabetes biomarkers.

Further information

*DIRECT: Diabetes REsearCH for patient stratification. http://www.direct-diabetes.org
*IMI: The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is a joint initiative of the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations EFPIA. IMI’s goal is to develop innovative, safe drugs in order to accelerate pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. www.imi.europa.eu.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 1,900 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 31,000 staff members. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

The Diabetes Research Department (DRD) at Helmholtz Zentrum München views diabetes as a system in which genetics and environmental influences – especially lifestyle – interact. The focus is on an integrated research approach in which basic research and clinical research are closely interconnected. The goal is to find new approaches to therapy, prevention and diagnosis. For this reason, the research center cooperates closely with the two Munich universities. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/drd