News items Major European grant for research into hypos

23 February 2018

A European consortium led by Radboud university medical center has been awarded a European grant worth € 26 million for research into hypoglycemia. To curb the health risks and burden of disease caused by the ‘hypo’ (as it is known), in-depth research will be carried out by knowledge institutions, patient organizations and partners from industry.

Diabetes is the most common chronic disease in the world. Europe alone has around 60 million patients, 10% of whom have type 1 diabetes. People with diabetes are unable to regulate the level of glucose in their blood automatically and use insulin to reduce high glucose (or sugar) levels. This is a very precise process. One of the side-effects of using insulin is developing a low concentration of glucose in the blood. This is known as hypoglycemia, or ‘hypo’ for short. 

Important obstacle

Hypoglycemia is a serious side-effect that can cause symptoms such as confusion, cognitive problems and loss of consciousness. For this reason, patients and their families dread ‘hypos’. Hypoglycemia not only affects the patient’s quality of life, it also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Hypoglycemia is therefore an important obstacle when it comes to effective treatment for diabetes. 

European grant

The Hypo-RESOLVE consortium, headed by doctors of internal medicine Bastiaan de Galan and Cees Tack, theme Mitochrondrial diseases, was recently awarded a grant worth € 26 million by the European Commission. The funding is for research designed to reduce the disease burden and consequences of hypoglycemia. The research project Hypo-RESOLVE (Hypoglycemia – Redefining SOLutions for better liVEs) was allocated a grant within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020-IMI program. 

Understanding the hypo

Bastiaan de Galan: “We want to formulate the answers to questions that still go unanswered almost one hundred years after the discovery of insulin. One of our methods will be to set up a mega-database in which we combine 100 to 150 insulin trials to ascertain exactly how often hypoglycemia occurs. This will help us to define hypoglycemia and identify predictors in various populations. We can then use this information to derive practical standards and recommendations for pharmaceutical authorities, patient organizations and future research among patients.” 

Better treatment

Cees Tack: “We also intend to carry out fundamental and applied research to study and clarify the underlying mechanisms involved in hypoglycemia. This knowledge will enable us to develop new treatments for patients who don’t feel the warning signs of impending hypoglycemia. In addition, we will try to discover whether continuous glucose monitoring using a glucose sensor is worthwhile in practice. You mustn’t underestimate the psychological and economic impact of hypoglycemia on patients and their families. We want to define the extent of this impact as objectively as possible.”
The consortium hopes that this broad-based approach will ultimately achieve better quality of life for patients with diabetes who are treated with insulin.

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Pieter Lomans

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