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INTRODUCTION: Interest in the possibility of certain insulin treatments having the potential to modify cancer development and prognosis was reawakened in 2009, following publication of several epidemiological studies addressing this issue. This interest extends to how diabetes itself and cancer might be linked, and makes desirable an exchange of expert views and knowledge to enhance understanding in this subject among those treating diabetes and cancer, or those developing diabetes therapies. METHODS: A European meeting was convened with participants invited based on known relevant interests in endocrinology, oncology, epidemiology, and insulin analog design and investigation. Experts in these fields were invited to present on relevant topics, with open discussions held after each presentation. RESULTS: Concern over the potential mitogenic properties of certain insulin analogs has arisen from some (but not all) epidemiological studies, although confounding factors render interpretation controversial. Future epidemiological studies are likely to strengthen confidence in drawing conclusions. Meanwhile, pharmacological studies, and a consideration of cancer pathophysiology, implicate increased insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor affinity, and/or deranged insulin receptor interaction/signaling properties as possible a priori causes for concern with some insulin analogs. Again, interpretation of the body of pharmacological evidence is confounded by the array of test systems and methodologies used, and by studies frequently succumbing to methodological pitfalls. Reassuringly, most available insulin analogs do not differ in their receptor interaction response profile to human insulin, and for those that do there are reasons to question any potential clinical relevance. Nevertheless, it is desirable that new experimental models are devised that can better determine the likely clinical consequences of any variance in receptor response profile versus human insulin. CONCLUSION: More data are required to increase our understanding of this issue. To facilitate and disseminate such understanding, close cooperation and communication between diabetologists, epidemiologists, oncologists, and insulin engineers will be essential.

Original publication




Journal article


Adv Ther

Publication Date



28 Suppl 5


1 - 18


Diabetes Mellitus, Europe, Humans, Insulin, Neoplasms