Experts network to combat widespread diseases

Obesity, diabetes and inflammation make a dangerous trio. (Image: UK Erlangen)

FAU researchers study influence of metabolic factors on musculoskeletal diseases

Molecular biological research and clinical observation have shown that disturbances in the metabolism of fat and sugar influence the development of inflammatory musculoskeletal diseases. METARTHROS, an interdisciplinary research consortium funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and led by Prof. Dr. Georg Schett (head of Department of Medicine 3, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen) focuses on the connections between muscoloskeletal diseases such as arthritis and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

Preliminary research by the interdisciplinary consortium shows that obesity, diabetes and inflammation are connected. It is especially metabolic factors, such as changes in energy or sugar regulation, that influence all forms of chronic musculoskeletal diseases. In recent years, the number of patients with arthrosis, arthritis, diabetes and obesity has increased significantly. Those affected by chronic inflammatory diseases suffer from pain and restricted mobility, the consequences of which can even lead to premature death. From a socio-economic point of view, these diseases have a massive impact: increased down time, unfitness for work and early retirement cause high indirect costs to the health system.

‘Over the next ten years, we are expecting to see the number of patients continue to rise in accordance with demographic change. We must counteract this development. Within METARTHROS, we are developing concepts to improve treatment of arthritis patients and early detection of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity,’ says Prof. Dr. med. Georg Schett, the co-ordinator of the research network. ‘METARTHROS is the work of a consortium of experts from the fields of rheumatology, diabetology, epidemiology, genetics, physics of medical imaging and orthopaedics.

Thanks to the close co-operation between these experts, the research results can be translated into treatment concepts quickly,’ explains Prof. Dr. Georg Schett. Erlangen has a leading role in the consortium: in addition to the Department of Medicine 3, the Institute of Human Genetics (head: Prof. Dr. André Reis) and the Institute of Medical Physics (head: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.mult. Willi A. Kalender) are also working on the project. Other partners include Charité Berlin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg, Universitätsklinikum Marburg und Gießen, Deutsche Diabeteszentrum (Düsseldorf) and Deutsche Rheumaforschungszentrum (Berlin).

The METARTHROS consortium, co-ordinated by FAU, is one of eight major projects within the BMBF-funded research network for muscoloskeletal diseases. The research network is funded by the BMBF with EUR 35 million for a period of four years. Overall, 32 university and non-university organisations are contributing their expertise to the network to research the causes of muscoloskeletal diseases and improve treatment and prevention methods.

Further information:

Sandra Jeleazcov
Phone: +49 (0)9131 85 39109

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