We get so used to the USA apparently being the most important source of so many things (good and bad) that we can overlook what is happening almost on our own doorsteps. I happened upon this earlier, which a) is German; b) acknowledges that problems exist; c) suggests some different paths we might tread.
Like everything, it is only a distant hope, but at least they accept it is not all in our heads.
THYROID TRANS ACT is a scientific program which targets TH action beyond the classical concepts by asking the central question: What defines healthy and diseased thyroid function?
Answers to this question are of high priority for several reasons:
1 Thyroid disorders, with their metabolic and mental consequences, affect one third of the working German adult population with considerable negative impacts on the well-being of patients and significant costs of more than 2 billion € per year for the society and health system.
2 There is ample evidence that the current practice of determining serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and/or freeT4 (fT4) neither reflects the physiological nor the pathophysiological situation of an individual adequately. Furthermore, while levo-thyroxine, the most frequently prescribed hormone in Germany, ranks among the top ten prescribed pills worldwide, many patients complain of side effects and impaired well-being, despite seemingly adequate substitution as monitored by TSH and fT4. This highlights that clinical biomarkers are at present insufficient to assess the patients’ thyroid status comprehensively.
3 Thus there is an urgent need for novel biomarkers that can be used to reliably detect, monitor and distinguish healthy from diseased thyroid function. To this aim, the interrelationships between classical and new molecular players in TH action need to be deciphered and redefined in the context of organ specificity, gender and age. With exciting novel research technologies and large well-characterized epidemiological cohorts available, a truly translational approach to achieving these goals is within reach for the first time.
4 Consequently, the research will markedly advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of disturbed TH action and, more importantly, will open new avenues for diagnosis, prevention and targeting of common related diseases such as mood disorders, mental retardation, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and disrupted energy balance, all of which represent a major health burden with prominent impact of TH status.
5 The exciting discovery of multiple TH derivatives ranging from “T4 to T0” and their emerging interaction partners will represent an invaluable resource for the development of diagnostic pharmacological tools. Furthermore, the design of novel, innovative drugs to be employed in therapy of major disorders (‘Volkskrankheiten’) is conceivable and constitutes the long-term perspectives of the scientists involved in THYROID TRANS ACT.
The interdisciplinary research groups that participate in the SPP 1629 are dedicated to finding better treatment options for patients with TH related disease. In addition, the SPP 1629 provides a unique platform for training of junior scientists and doctors in endocrinology and, in particular, in the fast emerging field of thyroid research.