Sweden and Denmark are among the countries in the world hardest hit by type 1 diabetes. The DiaUnion project now receives an additional EUR 1 million funding to investigate the link between type 1 diabetes and related autoimmune diseases.
Type 1 diabetes causes the immune system to attack and destroy the body’s own vital insulin-producing cells. The disease is chronic and typically affects children and adolescents. In Sweden, about 50,000 people live with type 1 diabetes, and the situation in Denmark is similar.
In January 2020, a new Danish-Swedish collaborative project, DiaUnion, started, with the aim of being able to establish a screening program aimed at Swedish and Danish children. The project has now been awarded an additional EUR 1 million for a feasibility study of this screening program.
– We want answers to what triggers the immune system’s attack on the insulin-producing cells. By screening children before the disease has broken out, we hope to be able to identify risk factors and in the long run prevent outbreaks of type 1 diabetes as well as celiac disease and thyroiditis. The awarded support is very good news for diabetes research, says professors Daniel Agardh, Flemming Pociot and Åke Lernmark, who head up the project.
The participants in the DiaUnion project are the Capital Region of Denmark, Region Skåne, Lund University and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen. The collaboration is coordinated and led via the Danish-Swedish cluster organization Medicon Valley Alliance. The funding comes from the participating parties, as well as the EU / Interreg ØKS and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
– Diabetes research is one of Medicon Valley’s strongest areas with globally leading research, clinics and companies. DiaUnion is an excellent example of how we can join forces around common health challenges, says Petter Hartman, CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance.
Living with type 1 diabetes requires attention around the clock in a constant and complicated balancing of diet, activity, control of blood sugar and injection of insulin. No other disease requires so much of the patient daily.
– In Denmark and Sweden, two kids are diagnosed daily with type 1 diabetes, and in order to get rid of the disease, it is important to understand the underlying autoimmune mechanisms and develop treatments to stop them, says Finn Kristensen, project manager and also one of the initiators of the project.
The project will be completed in September 2022.