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With $1.6 million award, biochemist tackles diabetes
Date:1/9/2014

country to win an ADA Accelerator Award this year.

Wolfgang Peti"The easiest thing would be ... instead of injecting insulin, you'd just take a tablet. If you can control the insulin-signaling pathway with a drug, that would make your life much easier."Wolfgang Peti "The easiest thing would be ... instead of injecting insulin, you'd just take a tablet. If you can control the insulin-signaling pathway with a drug, that would make your life much easier."Peti's ambitious goal is to enable the development of medicines that improve on the status quo so greatly that insulin injections might no longer necessary.

"The easiest thing would be if you have type 2 diabetes instead of injecting insulin, you'd just take a tablet," he said. "If you can control the insulin-signaling pathway with a drug, that would make your life much easier."

Three targets

Many brilliant scientists share this goal, but so far the field has fallen short. Still, for all the well-worn dead ends, Peti still sees the insulin-signaling pathway as rife with potential new leads. He plans to look in novel ways and in novel places at the interactions of three main proteins in particular.

One target is the binding between insulin and the insulin receptor. That step activates the "TK" domain, or section, of the receptor, kicking off the cascade of protein signaling that leads to the metabolism of glucose. This may seem like an obvious place to start, but the complexity comes from trying to observe the movements of the TK domain and the specific timing that may be going awry in type 2 diabetes.

Peti and his colleagues have been able to model it all in E. coli bacteria, which will allow them to observe it precisely with NMR. That will allow Peti see how the TK domain reshapes and moves, how quickly and when. That could yield a clear understanding of whether a drug could block or slow a key movement that is happening too soon or too q
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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