Prednisone: effective but flawed
From the 1950's onward, prednisone has been effective against approximately 300 afflictions, among which rheumatoid arthritis. It does however have many unwanted side effects, the origins of which have so far not been properly researched. It is for precisely this reason that the pharmaceutical industry is looking to develop new drugs that are effectively comparable to prednisone, without the side effects.

To this end, this project looks into one of the major adverse effects of prednisone, which is the induction of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can result in type 2 diabetes, which significantly increases the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. A surprising discovery in contradiction to general belief is that some of prednisone's negative side effects occur at dosages as low as 7,5 mg per day. The partners in this project bring together expertise on insulin resistance, prednisone and experience with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fast facts
Full project title: Glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance
Start date: September 2007
End date: August 2011
Goal: Enabling the development of a replacement drug for prednisone with less side effects, by studying one of the major adverse effects of prednisone: induction of insulin resistance
Principal investigator: Wim Dokter, MSD
Project size: 5 FTE's
Partners: Leiden University Medical Center, MSD, University Medical Center Groningen, University Medical Center Utrecht, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam


The Central Nervous System (CNS) consists of the brain and the spinal cord. It has a fundamental role in the control of behaviour and the integration of information received from, and the coordination of the activity of, all parts of the body. CNS disorder is an umbrella term encompassing all disorders that affect either the spinal cord or the brain, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and Mulitple Sclerosis. Epilepsy is the most common CNS disorder, with an occurrence of 113.000 patients in the Netherlands in 2007, and as many as 6000 new patients annually. 

Each disease has its own symptoms and causes. However, in general it can be said that many CNS disorders are progressive. As the CNS is the main control system of the human body, many of its disorders can eventually be fatal. 

PhD theses from this project

Jos Hoes (project T1-106)
An Incompatible Triangle?

Marlies van der Goes (project T1-106)
Towards Safer Use of Glucocorticoids

“What TI Pharma can deliver from collaborations is more efficient healthcare, faster time to market and quicker patient benefit.”

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