Diabetes is the epidemic of our times with over 250 million patients diagnosed so far and rapidly growing numbers especially in the developing world. In Finland, the percentage of affected people is among the highest: an estimated tenth of the population have some form of diabetes. On the other hand, effective treatments exist for patients with diabetes, which ensures a good quality of life.
So why do doctors and health care officials constantly warn about the impending calamity of diabetes?
It is true that in the short term the treatments cure the acute symptoms. However, the human body maintains a delicate balance of nutrients and other substances, and the current treatments in many cases cannot exactly mimic the natural regulation, even if the visible symptoms disappear. Broadly speaking, diabetes can be defined as the inability to consume glucose for energy. Medication or insulin injections are enough to keep the cells going, but more often than not the patients have an abnormally high amount of sugar in their blood.
We still do not know exactly what happens next, but the end result for some patients is dire: within the first decades of diabetes their kidneys start to fail, their eyesight progressively deteriorates and they will most likely die prematurely from a heart attack. Additional medication exists to slow down or even halt the disease process, but medical and life style intervention cannot be started early enough due to the lack of knowledge of the exact biological mechanisms.
The Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study was founded to uncover the risk factors and mechanisms of the diabetic complications. We specialize in type 1 diabetes, where the body depletes its own capacity to use glucose via a deranged immune reaction, typically at a young age. We wish to improve the care for these patients by increasing the knowledge of the genes and environmental factors involved, and thus reduce the human and societal cost until a cure for diabetes itself – if ever found – is available.
nephropathy = kidney disease
The FinnDiane Study Group