First diagnostic markers for pre-diabetes discovered

In the latest edition of Molecular Systems Biology they describe for the first time three biomarkers that can indicate pre-diabetes.

First diagnostic markers for pre-diabetes discovered

Image: (from the left side to the right): Dr. Ana Messias, Prof. Annette Peters, Dr. Rui Wang-Sattler

The current study by scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the German Center for Diabetes Research, which appears in the latest edition of the renowned journal Molecular Systems Biology, reports for the first time on new biomarkers of pre-diabetes. Up to now, no specific biomarkers have been available for the early form of diabetes, one of the most important common diseases. The interdisciplinary team of epidemiologists, geneticists and metabolomics experts headed by Dr. Rui Wang-Sattler, who leads a working group in the Research Unit of Molecular Epidemiology, identified three new biomarkers of pre-diabetes, two of which predicted the risk of the disease in individuals.

“As the concentration of the biomarkers in blood are indicative of pre-diabetes, our study suggests that preventive measures can be taken,” says corresponding author Dr. Wang-Sattler, explaining the impact of the new discovery. If type 2 diabetes is diagnosed in early stages, such as pre-diabetes, disease development can be arrested or even prevented. Between about 8-10% of the German population suffers from type 2 diabetes mellitus, a disorder of glucose metabolism. New approaches to the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of this common disease are the scientific objectives of the Helmholtz Zentrum München. For the study, Dr. Wang-Sattler collaborated with several institutes at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, two partners from the German Center for Diabetes Research, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, and the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke.

Further information

Database and scientific team
Metabolomics analysis was used to identify biomarkers from the KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Augsburg Region) cohort and verified with data from the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study.
Dr. Rui Wang-Sattler and Mr. Zhonghao Yu of the Research Unit Molecular Epidemiology (acting Head, Prof. Annette Peters) cooperated with Dr. Ana Messias (Institute of Structural Biology), Prof. Thomas Meitinger (Director, Institute of Human Genetics), Prof. Martin Hrabě de Angelis (Director, Institute for Experimental Genetics), Prof. Jerzy Adamski (Head of the Genome Analysis Center) and Prof. Annette Peters (Director, Institute of Epidemiology II). The study was led by Dr. Christian Herder and Prof. Michael Roden at the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf.

Original Publication
Wang-Sattler, R et al.(2012) Novel biomarkers for pre-diabetes identified by metabolomics, Molecular Systems Biology (8): doi:10.1038/msb.2012.43

Link to specialist publication

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medicine, i.e. a customized approach to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of widespread diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung disease. To that end, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. It has about 2,000 staff members and is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organization, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with some 34,000 staff members. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research.

The German Center for Diabetes Research e.V. is a noational network combining diabetes experts from basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. The members of the association are Helmholtz Zentrum München German Research Center for Environmental Health, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Paul Langerhans Institute of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital in Dresden and Helmholtz Zentrums München’s Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen. The aim of the DZD is to find answers to unsolved questions in diabetes research by adopting a novel, integrative approach and to make a significant contribution towards improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.


Specialist contact

Dr. Rui Wang-Sattler, Department of Molecular Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München – the German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Tel: +49 89-3187-3978 – Fax: +49 89-3187-2428 –