Matthias Tschöp (Center) with Members of the Board of the Foundation and Spokesman of the Jury Stefan Endres (next to Tschöp).
Wiesbaden, April 28, 2014 (PMS). Type 2 diabetes and
associated obesity can possibly be treated more effectively
in the future than today – through novel active ingredients
derived from the body’s own hormones. These active
ingredients combine the properties of several hormones in
a single molecule. They are the result of research by the
Helmholtz Diabetes Center at the Munich Helmholtz Center and
Technical University Munich under the leadership of Prof. Dr.
med. Matthias Tschöp. Today, Tschöp received the Paul Martini
Prize worth EUR 25,000, which is awarded every year by the
Paul Martini Foundation, Berlin, for outstanding achievements
in clinical-therapeutic pharmaceutical research. The award
ceremony was held during the annual conference of the
German Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM) in Wiesbaden.
“Tschöp’s research gives rise to hope that we will be able to help
patients suffering from type 2 diabetes even better in the future
than today and that metabolic changes that previously required
gastrointestinal surgery can possibly also be achieved through
medication,” Prof. Stefan Endres said in his congratulatory speech.
“Tschöp’s outstanding publications also underscore that research in
Germany provides key impulses for diabetes therapy again, especially
because it is closely interconnected internationally.”
Nutrient use in the body and the associated regulation of blood sugar
levels and fat reserves are controlled by a network of hormones. Some
of them are released by the pancreas, the intestines and the body’s
fat tissue, but the hormones of other organs – including estrogen –
also take part in these control mechanisms. In type 2 diabetes, the
metabolism is disrupted and a series of diabetes drugs target this
disorder in terms of hormonal regulation. However, despite continuous
progress in therapeutic possibilities, this complex disease is not
satisfactorily treatable to this day.
Tschöp, who also chairs the “New Therapeutic Approaches” research
program at the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD),
established an important basis for his therapeutic research years
ago by identifying on what parts of the brain certain gastrointestinal
hormones take effect.
Over the past few years, Tschöp worked with chemist Professor
Richard DiMarchi (University of Indiana, United States) on developing
possibilities to more comprehensively interfere with hormonal
control of nutrient use in order to counteract type 2 diabetes and
frequently associated obesity. This work resulted in e.g. several
synthetic hormone molecules that combine the effect of two or three
natural hormones of the pancreas or intestines. In animal trials, they
simultaneously regulated blood sugar levels, reduced weight and had
a favorable effect on blood lipids. Several of the synthetic combination
hormones first described by Tschöp and DiMarchi are already being
tested in initial clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies.
With his work, Tschöp builds on experiences with patients who
underwent gastrointestinal surgery for weight reduction – the so-called
bariatric surgery. In many cases, the surgery changed not just the
patients’ digestion but also their hormonal metabolic regulation. In the
future, these effects are to be achieved through medication.
It has long been known that estrogen can have a favorable metabolic
impact in diabetes and obesity. However, the hormone was not easily
usable for this purpose, because it simultaneously caused strong
undesirable effects in the required concentrations. Now Tschöp and
his collaborators have found a way how estrogen administered as a
drug can be directed primarily to those cells participating in metabolic
regulation while bypassing the sexual organs or cells susceptible to
cancer. The researchers connected the estrogen with the intestinal
hormone GLP-1. This combination will deliver estrogen only to cells
(e.g. in the pancreas) that carry GLP-1 receptors. Animal trials
succeeded in creating a normalization of important metabolic settings,
associated with a significant weight reduction. Human trials are being
What is promising for the future is that this principle can be oriented
toward different target cells depending on the combination of peptide
and steroid hormones and therefore to the specific malfunction in
various diseases. As a result, Tschöp and his team are succeeding in
taking an important step on the path to more personalized medicine in
The award winner
Since 2011, Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Tschöp has been serving as the
Head of Research at Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC) and as Director
at the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity (IDO) at Helmholtz Zentrum
München – Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
(GmbH). He also holds the chair for metabolic diseases at Technical
University Munich, serves as associated professor at Yale University
and chairs the “New Therapeutic Approaches” research program at
Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung (DZD).
Until 2010, he held the Arthur Russell Morgan Endowed Chair of
Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and served as Research
Director for the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center. As a
postdoctoral fellow, he worked in research for Eli Lilly & Co. in
Indianapolis before he joined the German Institute for Nutritional
Research in Potsdam as head of a working group at the start of
the 1990s. Tschöp graduated with a doctorate degree from Ludwig
Maximilians University in Munich where he also worked as a clinician in
internal medicine for several years.
In 2013, Professor Tschöp was admitted to the German Academy of
Natural Scientists (Leopoldina).
The Paul Martini Foundation
The nonprofit, Berlinbased Paul Martini Foundation promotes
pharmaceutical research as well as research on pharmaceutical therapy
and intensifies the scientific dialog between medical scientists at
universities, hospitals, the researchbased pharmaceutical industry,
other research institutions, and representatives from health policy and
government agencies. The foundation is sponsored by the German
Association of Researchbased Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), Berlin,
and its currently 45 member companies.
The foundation was named after the outstanding scientist and
physician from Bonn, Professor Paul Martini (1889 1964), in honor of
his special achievements and service with regard to the advancement
and continued development of clinicaltherapeutic research, which he
impacted significantly for decades with his "Methods of Therapeutic
Examination" published in 1932.
Press Release (PDF)
Photo of the prize winner Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp (JPG)
CV of the prize winner (PDF)