Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Indonesia
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lichtenstein
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Madagascar
  Malaysia
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Panama
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sri Lanka
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tanzania
  Thailand
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Uganda
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States
  Vietnam


   Infocentre

Last Update: 20-08-2014  
Related category(ies):
Health & life sciences  |  International cooperation

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Estonia  |  Finland  |  Germany  |  Netherlands  |  Russia
Add to PDF "basket"

The cross-border initiative focused on defence against diabetes

Type 1 diabetes results from abnormal activity of the body's immune system and it is on the rise in European children and adolescents. A European research project aims to find out why the cleanliness long assumed to be the best defence against this disease could actually be the cause of it.

photo of girl at doctors office

© gpointstudio - Fotolia

The project, DIABIMMUNE, was prompted by a Nordic mystery: why is it that Finland – which has some of the highest living standards and healthcare in the world – also has the highest incidence of diabetes in the world? And why are infection rates six times lower across the border in Karelia in north-western Russia, where living standards are much lower than the European average? The research, which included input from Karelia’s Petrozavodsk State University, came to the counter-intuitive conclusion that the answer hides in something medicine usually considers its enemies: antigens such as microbes, viruses, fungi and dust particles.The good news is that feeding mothers do help their babies develop a stronger immunity.

Project coordinator Mikael Knip, a professor at the Children’s Hospital University of Helsinki, Finland, explains his hygiene hypothesis as the idea that lack of infections in early life can lead to a dysfunctional immune system, favouring allergic and autoimmune diseases. “We asked the question whether the total microbial load over the first years of life is critical for programming (building up) the immune system or whether specific microbes play a crucial programming role,” he says.

The DIABIMMUNE research team examined infection rates in Finland, Estonia and Russia, studying 4,500 children under the age of five. “So far we have seen clear differences in the frequency of early signs of autoimmunity and allergy among the three countries involved,” Knip says.

One of the international project partners, Natalya Dorshakova, a medical science professor at Petrozavodsk State University in Karelia, was involved in finding and transporting biological samples to the core laboratory in Helsinki. She says that the “fanatical fight against microbes” has weakened the body’s defences. “We install multiple window glazing against street dust, we use products for the body and home with strong disinfectant additives, the food industry uses antibiotics, etc,” she explains.

Dorshakova says the research under the DIABIMMUNE project has already had some success in treating diabetes and dealing with its symptoms and complications. However, the aim is to prevent the start of the autoimmune process. This is best done through an early “acquaintance” with antigens such as microbes, viruses, fungi and dust particles. “It is essential for newborns to develop and build up immunity,” she says. “If the body overcomes the initial exposure to a particular antigen and gains immunity, then the next encounter will be peaceful and stress-free,” adds Dorshakova.

DIABIMMUNE also found significant differences in the frequency of various viral infections among the three countries. In addition, less-desired immune responses are suppressed more powerfully in Estonian infants compared to Finnish peers.

“We have collected a unique biobank with a diverse series of biological samples to be analysed over the years to come,” explains Knip, pointing out that it could lead to a treatment for allergic and autoimmune diseases. “If we can develop an effective preventive treatment for allergic and autoimmune diseases, that would raise the quality of life for a considerable proportion of the European population and would also lower the future healthcare costs for the society,” he says

.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: DIABIMMUNE
  • Participants: Finland (Coordinator),Estonia, Germany, Netherlands, Russia
  • Project FP7 202063
  • Total costs: € 7 697 061
  • EU contribution: € 5 999 900
  • Duration: January 2008 -

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project web site
Project information on CORDIS






  Top   Research Information Center