Researchers gain support from Merck Sharp & Dohme for novel area of diabetes research

September 13, 2005

The prestigious grant programme was set up this year to advance current understanding of beta cell research which is crucial to advancing treatment, and possibly developing a cure for diabetes since beta-cell dysfunction is a major factor contributing to the development of this disease. The three-year programme will award a total of €1,400,000 for outstanding research in diabetes. A number of grants of up to €100,000 each have already been awarded and these will be announced at this year's European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference in Athens. More awards will be made next year. The current winners represent a number of European countries with grants being awarded to outstanding and vital medical research from Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and France (see back page for more details). In a tight competition, proposals from many researchers across Europe were first assessed by a peer review committee before the final decision was made by the Partnership Board, composed of representatives from both Merck Sharp & Dohme and EFSD.

Professor Philippe Halban, Chair of the EFSD Advisory Board comments, "Despite its great potential European diabetes research suffers from under-funding both at European Commission and national levels. This partnership focuses on one of the most important areas of advancement in diabetes research, beta cell function, survival and regeneration. The EFSD has entered into many partnerships but this is the first to focus exclusively on islet studies. Making this grant available to key researchers in this field will allow European diabetes research to be more competitive and hopefully move further towards a cure for diabetes".

The EFSD/MSD Programme Awards are intended to stimulate and accelerate European research into all aspects of beta cell function and survival. MSD and the EFSD have created this partnership to promote increased European research in diabetes, to raise awareness of the burden of diabetes and its complications throughout Europe, and to increase collaboration between Europe academic diabetes research groups and industry.

Approximately 194 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. This number will exceed 333 million by 2025 if nothing is done to slow this destructive epidemic . In 2003, the three regions of the world with the largest numbers of diabetes sufferers were India with 35.5 million, China with 23.8 million and the United States with 16 million , with at least that same number in the European Union. In Europe, an estimated 22.5 million patients are believed to have diabetes. At least 50% of all people with diabetes are unaware of their condition and in some countries this figure may rise to 80%. MSD and the EFSD are active in trying to promote awareness of this disease and in funding research into the underlying pathologies of diabetes as well as new approaches to treatment.
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About EFSD
The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) was founded in Montecatini, Italy, in 1965. In 1999, the Association created the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EFSD). The aims of EFSD are to encourage and support research in the field of diabetes, to rapidly diffuse acquired knowledge and to facilitate its application. To date, EFSD along with its partners, has committed more than €25 million to European diabetes research.

About MSD
Merck & Co., Inc., which operates in many countries as Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines in more than 20 therapeutic categories. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

Merck & Co., Inc.

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