How big data can help find solutions against diabetes

An estimated 415 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. Helen Colhoun and Alessandra Petrelli, two researchers supported by the AXA Research Fund, are using data to fight the different types of diabetes and their complications. ALL NEWS  |  Risk & Research
Feb 1, 2018

Two major types of diabetes exist:

  • People with Type 1 diabetes can’t produce insulin, the hormone allowing the body to use glucose, and thus have to manage the intake of it;
  • Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar, and insulin resistance. 90% of people suffering from Type 2 diabetes are obese.

These two types of diabetes have in common the fact that they can lead to complications like cardiovascular diseases or diabetic neuropathy, diseases that are difficult to anticipate and cure.

Alessandra Petrelli, from University Vita-Salute San Raphaelle, is specifically looking at type 2 diabetes, and tries to understand the links it has with obesity. She aims at gathering data and insights on T cells, types of white blood cells essential for the immune system, altered in obese patients, to be able to better balance the immune system of obese people.

Helen Colhoun, from the University of Edinburgh, uses anonymized healthcare data records and data collected from wearable devices to understand why some people get diabetes and others don’t. The data collected helps Helen define patterns and risks prediction models to better anticipate diseases to be faced by patients and find early solutions, and ultimately more efficient treatments.

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