VTT has started a new 3-year project in September 2008 jointly with the Turku University Hospital and the Gothenburg University with the aim being prevention of type 1 diabetes. To achieve this goal the scientists will be using gut microbiota as a target. T1D is a major healthcare issue in Western countries.
The project is motivated by VTT's discovery of early metabolic signatures predictive of later progression to autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes. These metabolic signatures suggest the potential role of gut microbiota in early T1D pathogenesis. Therefore, in this project the aim is to discover specific microbes or lack of them associated with later progression to T1D, and to utilize that information for developing new prevention strategies. If the tests for the prevention strategies are successful the intervention can be considered for clinical stages.
The project is initiated and coordinated by Prof. Matej Orešič from VTT. It combines expertise in systems biology and metabolomics (VTT), clinical type 1 diabetes research (Prof. Olli Simell and his group from the Turku University Hospital and the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study DIPP), and microbiology (Prof. Fredrik Bäckhed, University of Gothenburg).
The project "The gut microbiota as a novel target for prevention of type 1 diabetes" is coordinated by VTT and it is funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in USA.
It has been recently reported (Harjutsalo V, Sjöberg L, Tuomilehto J. Lancet. 2008; 371: 1777-1782) that based on current trends the incidence of type 1 diabetes in Finland will double within next 15 years and the age of onset will be younger (0-4 years). T1D is and will be therefore a major healthcare issue in Finland, and increasingly also in other Western countries. Discovery of preventive therapies capable of preventing or delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes would thus have major implications for healthcare.
Research Professor Matej Orešič
tel. +358 40 705 5156