Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease resulting from a long-term increase in blood sugar levels. If diabetes is not treated adequately, elevated blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications, namely an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke), shortened life expectancy, and damage to the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. 

Diabetes affects 10% of the population

The most common form of diabetes is type 2, which typically occurs in middle-aged and older individuals and is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, arterial hypertension, and lipid metabolism disorders. In the Czech Republic, nearly 10% of the population currently suffers from diabetes. The cost of treating the disease accounts for 15–20% of the overall cost of healthcare, two thirds of which is spent on treating chronic complications.

Diabetes is caused by a variety of factors, but the current selection of drugs does not cover all of them; despite considerable advances in the treatment of the disease, a substantial number of patients still suffer from multiple chronic complications. It is, therefore, necessary to continue working on the development of new drugs that not only treat diabetes better but also lead to optimal weight loss and thus have a positive impact on chronic complications and associated diseases. 

What we’re working on and what we’ve accomplished

The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the development of new drugs with a comprehensive effect on diabetic compensation and diabetes-related diseases that can facilitate prevention and provide effective therapy. An important part of our strategy is also characterization of the mechanisms underlying these diseases.

Collaboration is currently underway on a project devoted to lipidized peptides, which are capable of comprehensively influencing diabetic compensation and significantly reducing body mass. In addition, intensive research is being conducted on the effects of lipidized peptides on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, the risk of which is greater for people with diabetes. The results of testing on preclinical mouse and rat models indicate interesting potential for this therapy. 

Participating in the research is the laboratory of Dr. Lenka Maletínská of IOCB, Dr. Jaroslav Kuneš and coworkers at IPHYS, and Prof. Martin Haluzík and team at IKEM. The joint effort has resulted in several publications in prestigious journals and a number of patents, which have opened the door to a license agreement and scientific collaboration with a global pharmaceutical company pursuing development of a new therapy for type 2 diabetes.

Collaboration between the teams of Prof. Tereza Pelikánová at IKEM and Dr. Ondřej Kuda at IPHYS has led to the discovery of new lipid mediators that form in adipose tissue and improve insulin sensitivity. This is giving rise to further collaborative research by IKEM and IPHYS on the significance of these mediators in the development of heart failure. 

In collaboration between the laboratory of Dr. Tomáš Čajka of IPHYS and several teams at IKEM, we are beginning to use comprehensive analysis of small molecules in biological fluids with the goal of identifying the mechanism that causes diabetes together with the mechanism of the effects of the drugs used to treat it.