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Paradigm shifts: scientific papers that changed the diabetes world

13th September 2022
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In a new series of films on Horizons, leading researchers and clinicians from around the world talk about the journal articles that have left a deep impression on their understanding and practice in the field of diabetes.

Scientific discovery is a slow, painstaking business. Eureka moments are few and far between. Even so, it’s the breakthroughs that stick in the mind. Those turning points – usually accompanied by a much pored-over journal article and hinging on the sharing and accumulation of knowledge over many years – when, for the scientific community, the penny finally drops and our collective understanding advances.

The history of diabetes research is unusually blessed with such moments. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, which conclusively demonstrated the importance of tight glycaemic (and blood pressure) control in preventing the complications of type 1 diabetes. The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, which did much the same for type 2 diabetes. And of course, just over a century ago, the discovery of insulin itself.

We wanted to know which trial results and articles had been breakthrough moments for our authors and collaborators. Starting earlier this year, whenever we were filming a module or panel discussion, we began asking presenters or participants to choose the diabetes-related journal article that had had the biggest impact on them, and to explain how it had affected their understanding of diabetes and their practice as a researcher or clinician. The result is a new film series -‘Gamechangers’ – which starts on Horizons this week.

To kick the series off, EASD President Professor Stefano Del Prato chooses two articles, separated by 20 years but closely connected by subject (the effects of phlorizin on glycaemia and insulin secretion) and ultimately by their potential to transform the treatment of diabetes:

Rossetti L, Shulman GI, Zawalich W, De Fronzo RA. Effect of Chronic Hyperglycemia on In Vivo Insulin Secretion in Partially Panceatectomized Rats. J Clin Invest. 1989 (Oct):80; 1037-1044.

Zinman B, Wanner C, Lachin JM, Fitchett D, Bluhmki E, Hantel S, Mattheus M, Devins T, Johansen OE, Woerle HJ, Broedl UC, Inzucchi SE. EMPA-REG OUTCOME Investigators. Empagliflozin, Cardiovascular Outcomes, and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes. NEJM. 2015 (Nov): 2117-2128.

Watch the first film in the ‘Gamechangers’ series, ‘New vision, new treatment’ presented by Professor Stefano Del Prato, launching this week on Horizons.

For more on this topic, enrol on the following EASD e-Learning course:

Any opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the EASD e-Learning Programme Director, Dr Eleanor D Kennedy.