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Persistent virus infection as a cause of pathogenic inflammation in type 1 diabetes - an innovative research program of biobanks and expertise

Coordinator: Heikki HYOTY
Project Number: 261441
EC contribution: 5,999,687.00
Project website: http://www.uta.fi/med/pevnet/index.html

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an inflammatory process which damage insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas. It is one of the most common chronic diseases and its incidence is rapidly increasing. Due to its complications it causes a significant medical and economic burden to European society. A causal association between enterovirus and type 1 diabetes has become more and more likely. The aim of the present research programme is to create a new research strategy aligned to a concerted scientific research effort and creation of a network of unique resources which makes it possible to achieve a significant breakthrough in this field. The main focus is in the detection of persistent enterovirus infection leading to inflammation and tissue damage in the pancreas and its role in mediating the inflammatory response that causes type 1 diabetes. The goal is to take the critical steps towards therapeutic translation of research findings by employing a novel research design and synergistic networks of excellence based on the combination of a multidisciplinary research strategy and availability of unique biobanks existing in Europe. This research programme will also create a completely new type of biobank which facilitates a wide range of new analyses of fresh tissues. The programme includes a strong translational component which facilitates the ongoing efforts to develop vaccines against diabetogenic enteroviruses and other targeted therapies. The program also has a wider impact on the entire field of research on pathogen-disease associations, since the same innovative research strategy can be applied to other diseases as well. Altogether, this research program will take full advantage of the excellent biobank networks and a long tradition in biomedical and clinical research in Europe and creates an exceptional opportunity to take the final steps towards proving causality in the enterovirus-diabetes association.

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