Endocrine and metabolic diseases span a vast range of conditions, including osteoporosis, cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, and obesity. Together, they affect many millions of Americans and can profoundly decrease quality of life. Hypothyroidism affects about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older. Patients with cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease of the glands, continue to face much lower life expectancy compared to healthy adults, despite dramatic advances in treatment. Managing cystic fibrosis is a great challenge for patients and their families.
Many of these diseases are influenced by a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors.
NIDDK-supported researchers are seeking to understand the molecular mechanisms critical to a functioning immune system. This research could lead to novel approaches to treating autoimmune disorders. Work is being done on the roles of specific genes and proteins in a variety of metabolic functions, and in how these roles become impaired. For example:
- NIDDK-supported researchers are working on hormone therapy for the improved treatment of hypothyroidism.
- New discoveries about the relationships between specific genetic mutations and cystic fibrosis are leading NIDDK-supported researchers towards identifying new avenues for treatment of this debilitating disease.
NIDDK’s National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS) provides information about endocrine and metabolic diseases to patients, their families, and health care professionals. The Service answers inquiries by phone and email, and offers access to online resources and publications.