It is expected that the number of diabetes patients will increase dramatically in the coming years as a result of obesity, lack of exercise and bad eating habits. In the Netherlands approximately 700,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Furthermore it is expected that there are 250,000 people who have not yet been diagnosed.
The treatment of diabetes has improved greatly in recent years and the disease is usually well controlled by GP’s with the help of lifestyle changes and medication, but there is still no cure. Due to obesity diabetes is presenting at an increasingly younger age and with the longer duration of the disorder the chance of complications such as heart failure, renal failure, lower limb amputations and eye defects increases. For this reason the number of complications shall increase dramatically in the near future. These complications reduce the patient’s quality of life and impose a heavy burden on Health Care. Especially patients with diabetes that is difficult to control or those with complications are treated at the University Medical Centres.
Awareness, prevention and research are being addressed in a diverse number of ways. This takes place in conjunction with the Dutch diabetes patient society (Diabetesvereniging Nederland), fundraising organisations (Diabetes Fonds, Hartstichting en Nierstichting) and the Nederlandse Diabetes Federatie. Connections with large pharmaceutical companies are also maintained. Dutch researchers are working on relevant EU-projects in the area of diabetes and the genetics of diabetes. A number of these projects make use of a common biobank. There are however no biobanks directed at serious diabetes complications. In the long term the European networks can serve as an expansion on the PSI biobank for diabetes.
The aim of the Diabetes Pearl is to identify treatable risk factors and to develop better treatment strategies. For this reason clinical data and biomaterial is being collected from more than 7,000 patients with type 2 diabetes and additional information is being gathered regarding, among others, the quality of life.