Miller, Brian Gene, PhD
Biogenic activators of human glucokinase
General Research Subject: Both Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology\Pharmacologic Treatment of Diabetes or its Complications, Integrated Physiology\Regulation of Glucose Kinetics, Islet Biology\Metabolic Regulation
Type of Grant: Innovation
Project Start Date: January 1, 2012
Project End Date: December 31, 2013
Human glucokinase functions as the primary glucose sensor in the human liver and pancreas. As such, the action of this biological molecule must be precisely regulated during the daily activities of the cell. When the activity of glucokinase becomes too high, a state known as hyperinsulinemia can result. Conversely, when glucokinase activity is too low patients can become diabetic. Indeed, low levels of glucokinase activity are associated with a hereditary from of diabetes known as maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). To combat the diabetic state, scientists have sought small-molecule therapeutics that stimulate glucokinase activity inside human cells. The goal of this study is to utilize a unique combination of chemistry and biology to identify natural, biologically derived small-molecules that enhance glucokinase action. Such molecules hold great promise for the development and refinement of clinically relevant therapeutic agents for the treatment of diabetes.
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
Our research targets a protein found within the pancreas called glucokinase, which functions as the body's primary glucose sensor. Defects in glucokinase action are associated with Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young Type II (MODY-2). The goal of our research is to identify biologically derived small-molecules that target glucokinase and enhance its biological activity. Such compounds hold much promise as therapeutic agents for the treatment of diabetes.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
Our research is aimed at discovering new bioactive molecules that could be used to treat diabetic patients. Thus, the goal of our research is directly relevant to the identification and functional investigation of potential drugs. Our hope is to identify lead compounds with promising physiological properties that can be used for future therapeutic development.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Diabetes is a world-wide epidemic. Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 10% of the world's adult population suffers from this disease. It is critical for basic scientists, such as myself, to contribute in an active and sustained manner to combat diabetes. This award will assist my laboratory in our search for new biologically derived small-molecules that could prove useful as diabetic therapeutic agents.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
A renewed focus on translational research is where I perceived diabetes research will proceed in the future. Scientists must continue to strive to development more rapid methods to apply the results of basic biomedical research to the patients that suffer from diabetes. One promising avenue is to continue to foster deep and long-lasting collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers. Together these groups can quickly translation bench science into clinical applications.
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