Perspective: a systems approach to diabetes research

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  • Martin Kussmann
  • Melissa J Morine
  • ,
  • Jörg Hager
  • ,
  • Bernhard Sonderegger
  • ,
  • Jim Kaput

We review here the status of human type 2 diabetes studies from a genetic, epidemiological, and clinical (intervention) perspective. Most studies limit analyses to one or a few omic technologies providing data of components of physiological processes. Since all chronic diseases are multifactorial and arise from complex interactions between genetic makeup and environment, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a collection of sub-phenotypes resulting in high fasting glucose. The underlying gene-environment interactions that produce these classes of T2DM are imperfectly characterized. Based on assessments of the complexity of T2DM, we propose a systems biology approach to advance the understanding of origin, onset, development, prevention, and treatment of this complex disease. This systems-based strategy is based on new study design principles and the integrated application of omics technologies: we pursue longitudinal studies in which each subject is analyzed at both homeostasis and after (healthy and safe) challenges. Each enrolled subject functions thereby as their own case and control and this design avoids assigning the subjects a priori to case and control groups based on limited phenotyping. Analyses at different time points along this longitudinal investigation are performed with a comprehensive set of omics platforms. These data sets are generated in a biological context, rather than biochemical compound class-driven manner, which we term "systems omics."

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Pages (from-to)205
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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