Diabetes: A journey into the future

Prof. Dr. Hendrik Lehnert, President of the German Diabetes Society (DDG) congress explains why the 2021 edition will be of particular importance, an shares the event's highlights.

The 55th Congress of the German Diabetes Society (Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft, DDG) promises in its motto: "A journey into the future of diabetology". Congress President Prof. Dr. Hendrik Lehnert explains in an esanum interview why it will be "a very important, very exciting congress" and what highlights can be expected.

esanum: Prof. Lehnert, please explain the congress motto to us. Where is the announced journey of diabetology going?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: As in many other complex diseases of internal medicine, we are also dealing with the great importance of personalised medicine. This will be the biggest topic in the coming years. We hope to be able to develop a tailor-made therapy for every patient. And we will learn more and more about which drugs or system therapies, such as insulin, are best for which patients.

esanum: Will prevention also be a focus, so that diabetes becomes preventable one day and your subject even abolishes itself in the future?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: You can't really do anything better than reducing the number of people with the disease. We will certainly have great opportunities in prevention. We have made great progress in identifying subgroups of diabetes - for example, when it comes to the organ systems involved, such as the pancreas and how it functions in terms of insulin production and release. By better describing the types of diabetes, we can look more closely at how it runs in the family. Is there a risk constellation and is a patient's obesity associated with a greater risk due to other accompanying circumstances? For type 1 diabetes, I hope that we will make greater progress through new vaccination strategies.

esanum: What are the other Hot Diabetes Topics in 2021?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: Other hot topics are genetic issues. And how we can gain further insight into the development of the disease from the wealth of data we have from diabetics. Diabetes technologies are very important, for example the progress of continuous blood glucose measurements, and increasingly also closed loop applications, i.e. intelligent, self-controlling diabetes therapy. And we are dedicated to diabetes complications, diseases of the kidneys, eyes, nerves, diabetic foot syndrome - unfortunately, these have not become less frequent.

esanum: What do you do for the young doctors, the new generation in your field?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: We offer intensive support and mentoring. We have our own highlights for young scientists, but also for those who want to go into the clinics. There will be discussion rounds on their future prospects. And we will have intensive poster campaigns, which younger colleagues like to organise.

esanum: Are there also current findings on COVID-19?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: A number of posters deal with the topic of corona and the care of people with diabetes. Our clientele is - contrary to what is sometimes publicly portrayed - extremely susceptible to severe COVID courses and there are data that their mortality is increased by a factor of 10. Even pre-diabetes is a huge risk for severe COVID-19.

esanum: Lockdown also means for many: less exercise, more comfort eating - what do you see here in your patients?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: It is a bit early to judge this development. But the indications are piling up that there are more depressive illnesses - and of course this has an influence on diabetics. Because the correct setting of diabetes is determined to a considerable extent by psychological facts. We have this in mind and there will be posters about it. It must also be said that the quality of care for diabetics under corona was limited. We are concerned about that, of course. We will certainly get data on this soon.

esanum: What is actually going on with the establishment of the national diabetes register?

Prof. Dr. Lehnert: This is one of the most important projects of the DDG. We now have to merge the register data and the electronic diabetes file. There are still open questions, especially technical ones. I expect great progress this year.

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