SAN DIEGO (February 24, 2011) A research team, led by La Jolla Institute scientist Joel Linden, Ph.D., has shed new light on the problem of insulin resistance, and identified the key participants in a molecular pathway that holds therapeutic promise for reducing the severity of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers looked at the role of adenosine, an immune system signaling molecule, in triggering inflammation, which significantly contributes to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance keeps the body from properly handling sugar and is one of the key factors underlying type 2 diabetes. Diabetes now affects nearly 26 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"Several previous studies have shown that if you block adenosine signaling, insulin resistance is diminished," said Dr. Linden. "However, it wasn't known exactly how the process worked or which cells were directly involved."
Dr. Linden's team identified the primary cellular players in the adenosine-fueled inflammation cascade that contributes to insulin resistance. Their study, in animal models, also tested the effectiveness of a recently synthesized adenosine receptor blocker. "We found that if you use this molecule to selectively block one of the adenosine receptors, insulin resistance is decreased and diabetes gets better," said Dr. Linden, one of the world's leading authorities on adenosine.
Eugene Barrett, Ph.D., a past president of the American Diabetes Association, praised the study's findings as important. "There is a great need for new approaches to lessen the disease burden caused by insulin resistance," said Dr. Barrett, a professor of medicine and director of the University of Virginia's Diabetes Center, which was not involved in the study. "The work of Dr. Linden and his collaborators opens a new avenue to explore with possibly important therapeutic implications."
|Contact: Bonnie Ward|
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology