Modeling metabolic and inflammatory processes in the onset type 2 diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes (T2D) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Symptoms may be similar to those of Type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen. Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring in children.

Scientists and healthcare professionals now believe that T2D should be considered a systemic disease, sustained by a pervasive, metabolically- driven state of inflammation. There is therefore a pressing need to better understand the relationships between the underlying mechanisms – intertwined in a complex manner at molecular, tissue and organ levels – which progress from obesity to insulin resistance to full-blown disease. It is also essential that this exploration take place within the context of personalised medicine, with earlier identification of patient-specific diagnostic parameters and related inflammatory indicators.

We developed a composite simulation system embracing different levels of description, from the intra-cellular metabolic level, to the cellular level of the dynamics of the immune system cells. The model integrates nutritional as well as physical exercise stimuli over the course of simulated months and provides forecasted indications about the overall health condition.

During my talk I will discuss the original aims of this project, what we have achieved and the difficulties encountered so far.