Translational Diabetes Research

Research group for genetic and molecular analyses of causes of diabetes phenotypes – from lab to clinics (precision medicine).

Diabetes is an epidemic disease and prevalence is estimated to around 280.000 in Norway. Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children or youths, however the disease can occur later in life. In type 1 diabetes the cells producing insulin in the body are destroyed, and insulin is therefore administered as treatment so that the cells can take up glucose as energy source.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and a substantial increase in affected individuals has occurred over the last years. The disease is caused partly by reduced insulin production, and/or due to reduced action of the body’s own produced insulin.

Type 2 diabetes can partly be regulated and treated by reduced weigh loss, physical activity and good nutritional status, however most patients need medical treatment combined. In Norway, around 200.000 individuals have type 2 diabetes, and 28.000 have type 1 diabetes (totaling 4% of the population). Additionally, it is expected that a large portion of the population have undiagnosed diabetes (expecting a total prevalence of around 300.000 – 400.000).

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a rare form of inherited diabetes, which is caused by a mutation in one of several known diabetes genes. Clinically, there are today 14 different forms of MODY diabetes (MODY1-14).

Investigations of patients with suspected MODY is useful due to:

  1. Genetic characterization and specification of subtype of diabetes is necessary for precise diagnosis, targeted treatment and prognosis.
  2. MODY is an interesting model for genetic studies of type 2 diabetes
  3. Population wise it is important to establish MODY prevalence

The research group thus investigates what role/effect diabetes gene variants/mutations have on the normal function of diabetes-associated proteins, in order to identify the molecular cause for MODY or type 2 diabetes. This research has a direct consequence within precision medicine for diabetes patients with inherited forms of diabetes, as it provides a more correct diabetes diagnosis, as well as targeted treatment for individual patients.

Head of Research Group