14.05.2020 – 08:59

Helmholtz Centre Munich

Combating the COVID-19 pandemic and major diseases at the same time: a balancing act for biomedical research

Science, politics and financiers are facing a major challenge: while they need to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible and with even more resources, they also have to deal with the growing threat of other diseases. This balancing act and the reaction of the research community will be trend-setting for the global health situation in the coming years, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) argue in the current issue of the journal Cell. In their comment, the researchers address the important question of how to find a good balance between existing and new research priorities.

With this pandemic, the world is in an unprecedented position. If you look at how leading research institutions of all disciplines are currently working together to find solutions to the crisis, this would give cause for courage and hope, according to the authors of the comment. “However, this does not mean that we must lose sight of known challenges that are life-threatening for many billions of people or that have a significant impact on their quality of life. It would be risky to interrupt decades of intensive basic research as well as translational and clinical research and thereby possibly jeopardize their success, ”warns Prof. Matthias Tschöp, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “It is the task of the research community to act sensibly and proactively in the face of all of the acute and future threats. We have to renew ourselves and we can learn a lot from the experience of the corona pandemic. ”

The threat of major common diseases is growing

The comment refers in particular to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer, which are still the main causes of death, disability and loss of quality of life worldwide. For example, today more than 400 million people have type 2 diabetes. Related cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in western societies. By 2040, the number of new cancers will increase from the current 18 million to around 30 million annually.

Opportunities must be fully exploited

According to the commentators, the COVID-19 crisis has already changed the research community. Some of these changes could help to better deal with other health challenges. For example, international research teams work together across organizations, disciplines and borders to work together on one goal rather than in competition. Regulators have speeded up their processes and data is shared and shared with one another faster than ever

“The current COVID 19 crisis teaches us that in a global society we need intelligent, sustainable, balanced and common investments to improve our health. At best, all areas of biomedical research should benefit from this development. Because the way to prevent and eradicate many of the world’s greatest threats to our health does not allow us to take a step back, ”emphasizes Prof. Eleftheria Zeggini, director of the Institute for Translational Genomics at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Original publication

Zeggini et al., 2020: Biomedical Research Goes Viral: Dangers and Opportunities. Cell, DOI: 10.1016 / j.cell.2020.05.014

Helmholtz Centre Munich

As a research center, the Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the mission of developing personalized medical solutions for the prevention and therapy of environmental diseases for a healthier society in a rapidly changing world. The head office of the center is in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. The Helmholtz Zentrum München employs around 2,500 people and is a member of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organization in Germany with more than 40,000 employees in 19 research centers.

Helmholtz Zentrum München
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1
D-85764 Neuherberg
Telefon: +49 89 3187-0
Internet: www.helmholtz-muenchen.de
E-Mail: [email protected]  
Geschäftsführung: Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Matthias H. Tschöp, Kerstin Günther
Registergericht: Amtsgericht München HRB 6466
Umsatzsteueridentifikationsnummer: DE 129521671
Aufsichtsratsvorsitzende: MinDir’in Prof. Dr. Veronika von Messling 

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