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Protein power: Researchers trigger insulin production in diabetic mice
Date:1/8/2008

d to naturally produce the hormone, restoring the bodys ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels without having to use a potentially hazardous virus to slip corrective genes into the body or having to transplant pancreatic cells from someone else. That could eliminate the adverse effects sometimes associated with gene therapy and eliminate the need for lifelong suppression of the immune system so transplanted cells are not rejected, Yang said.

We sought to see what happens if we inject highly pure Pdx1 protein into (the abdomens of) diabetic animals, said Yang, who is also a founder and head of the scientific advisory board for Transgeneron Therapeutics Inc., which seeks to develop Pdx1 as a treatment for diabetes. UF holds a provisional patent on Pdx1 protein therapy. Amazingly, the treated mice did all the rest. Upon daily injection of this protein for 10 days into diabetic animals, their blood glucose levels became normalized within two weeks following the first injection. We repeated the experiment six times, and we got the reproducible result every time. What is remarkable is that the protein also promotes regeneration of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, allowing the diabetic mice to become normal.

Yang said there is now reason to believe normal blood sugar levels can be maintained for long periods, suggesting that an infrequent Pdx1 injection might someday replace daily insulin injections. Even more importantly, the reprogrammed and regenerated cells should make and release insulin, automatically maintaining safe blood sugar levels, she said.

Right now, promoting beta cell regeneration has become such a hot topic, she added. The trick is to figure out how to trigger glucose-regulated insulin-producing cells to regenerate.

Still, the approach will have to be tested in studies that assess its safety before scientists could conduct patient trials to determine whether it works in people, studies that are still yea
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Contact: Melanie Fridl Ross
ufcardiac@aol.com
352-273-5810
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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