Diabetes mellitus is a lifelong, incapacitating disease affecting multiple organs. Worldwide prevalence figures estimate that there will be 246 million diabetic patients in 2007 and 380 million in 2025. Presently, diabetes can neither be prevented nor cured and the disease is associated with devastating chronic complications including coronary heart disease and stroke (macrovascular disease) as well as microvascular disorders leading to damage of the small blood vessels of the kidney (nephropathy), eye(retinopathy) and peripheral nerves (neuropathy). These complications impose an immense burden on the quality of life of the patients and account for more than 10% of health care costs in Europe. Therefore, novel means to prevent these devastating diabetic complications are needed. An important mean in this undertaking would be to develop tools which would make development of novel drugs for prevention of complications more feasible. The SUMMIT consortium brings together European key leaders in the field of diabetes research; scientists with a deep insight into genetics, biomarker discovery, development of novel imaging assays for assessing progression of complications, novel animal models for chronic diabetic complications, in silico models to predict development of complications and response to novel treatments. Given the track record of this unique group of scientists, it can be anticipated that they will not only during the 6-year period discover novel surrogate markers for vascular complications in diabetes, but also validate them in large representative cohorts aiming at prevention of the devastating complications.
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