" IN SEARCH FOR THE PATIENT’S BENEFIT!".- PROF EM DR L. VAN GAAL, ENDOCRINOLOGIST, DIABETOLOGIST, UZA - UA ANTWERP
With ever-growing epidemic proportions, obesity and diabetes represent major health threats of our modern societies. Among the numerous comorbidities associated with obesity and being overweight, the most common are diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. Obesity and type 2 diabetes represent the top preventable causes of premature death and disability. The recent Covid-19 pandemic and its life-threatening consequences has also highlighted the role of obesity and diabetes in the prediction of a worse outcome.
At the Dept of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism of the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) we are, since 40 years, focusing on research and patient care form innovation in therapies that might prevent patients from complications and improve their over-all wellbeing and quality of life.
Research about environmental, endocrine disruptors and liver fattening – the so-called NAFLD- contributed to better understanding the origin of obesity and prediabetes. This research collaboration received wide European interest and abroad, being recognized as a collaborating centre of obesity management by EASO. With the disappointing results with lifestyle intervention for obesity treatment, novel therapies have been studied in collaboration with industry partners: we progressed from pills to peptides as an easy injectable approach and the future looks a promising path to a new era. In this respect we were among the first to study a gut hormone – a GLP-1 – in obesity and diabetes.
As to diabetes, the UZA played a crucial role in the advancement of patient diabetes education and technology. The development of accurate and reliable continuous glucose monitoring, as was initiated in Belgium by our group, was a breakthrough for the individual patient. Our department further invests in such novel technology and promising therapeutic approaches for individuals with diabetes: we collaborate with other centers in the development of implantable multi-biomarker sensors. This approach with sensor-augmented pump therapy may facilitate the development of an artificial pancreas.
This medical historical performance continues in new developments in order to help our patients in a move to better treatments to avoid metabolic complications.
Finally, our department has a heart for the patient, as all the previous and actual chairmen were and are involved in the Belgian Diabetes Liga.