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Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine researcher receives award
Date:5/7/2008

Boston, MAM. Michael Wolfe, M.D., professor of medicine and research professor of physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine and chief of the Gastroenterology Section at Boston Medical Center, was awarded an Individual Biomedical Research Award by The Hartwell Foundation. Wolfe, considered a premier authority on the biology of GI regulatory peptides, will receive $300,000 direct cost over three years as a Hartwell Investigator for his project, Peptide Replacement Therapy Using Transgenic Stem Cells Delivered to the Small Intestinal Mucosa.

Wolfe and his colleagues are developing a technique to redress hormone and enzyme deficiencies that cause diseases such as type 1 diabetes. The technique relies on engineering stem cells that produce the missing peptides and implanting them in the small intestine.

Because of their molecular size and susceptibility to degradation by stomach acid and digestive enzymes, insulin and other hormones must currently be administered by injection. The discomfort and inconvenience associated with injections often diminish patient compliance, particularly in children, which increases the risk of long-term complications. This concern is of particular importance for patients with type 1 diabetes, who often require multiple daily insulin injections to maintain stable blood sugar. Type I diabetes is one of the most common severe chronic diseases in children (1/300 in the US) and a major cause of end-stage renal disease, blindness, cardiovascular disease and premature death in the general population.

In a manuscript published in Science in 2000, Wolfe and his collaborators reported that intestinal K-cells of transgenic mice, which normally manufacture a hormone called GIP, could be engineered to express insulin and maintain normal blood glucose levels, even after pancreatic insulin-producing (islet-beta) cells were destroyed. Employing the same genetic approach, Wolfe plans to transform stem
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Contact: Michelle Roberts
michelle.roberts@bmc.org
617-638-8491
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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