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Case Western Reserve team discovers 'smart' insulin molecule
Date:4/12/2010

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- April 12, 2010 For millions of Americans with Type-2 diabetes and inject insulin to control diabetes (with onset typically in adulthood) the associated risk of cancer is of increasing concern. Studies have demonstrated that obesity and excess insulin whether naturally produced by the body or injected in synthetic form are associated with an increased incidence of some common cancers.

With the release of today's study, "Supramolecular Protein Engineering Design of Zinc-Stapled Insulin Hexamers as a Long Acting Depot," in the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry, a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, led by Michael Weiss, MD, PhD, Cowan-Blum Professor of Cancer Research and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, reveals their invention of a "smart" insulin protein molecule that binds considerably less to cancer receptors and self-assembles under the skin. To provide a slow-release form of insulin, t he analog self-assembles under the skin by means of "stapling" itself via bridging zinc ions. In light of its scientific and societal importance, the publication was highlighted as a "Paper of the Week" by the editors of the journal.

"It's quite a novel mechanism. Our team has applied the perspective of biomedical engineering to the biochemistry of a therapeutic protein. We regard the injected insulin solution as forming a new biomaterial that can be engineered to optimize its nano-scale properties," says Dr. Weiss. He adds, "The notion of engineered zinc staples may find application to improve diverse injectable protein drugs to address a variety of conditions from cancer to immune deficiency."

While initially tested in diabetic rats by team member Faramarz Ismail-Beigi, PhD, professor of medicine at CWRU School of Medicine, the study of this new, self-assembling insulin will continue with approval by the National Institutes of Health toward the goal of human c
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Contact: Christina DeAngelis
christina.deangelis@case.edu
216-368-3635
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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