Ehrlich, Michelle E., MD
Role of SorCS1 in coordinated regulation of insulin sensitivity and risk for Alzheimer's amyloid pathology
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Type of Grant: Basic Science
Project Start Date: January 1, 2012
Project End Date: December 31, 2014
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
Our project covers the association between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. We have been initially examining this association from a genetic approach, and identified Sorcs1 as a risk factor for both. We went on to examine how normal abnormal levels of Sorcs1 may alter metabolism of amyloid precursor protein, and one of its products, toxic Abeta. Our goal is to further define this relationship to identify the metabolic pathways which play a role in this association. These data should provide potential steps in the pathways that be approached pharmacologically. This approach may not cure diabetes, but could be instrumental in preventing a dreaded "complication", i.e. Alzheimer's disease. In addition, however, our data will provide insight to brain insulin use and resistance in the presence of the Sorcs1 risk factor, in the absence of an Alzheimer's risk factor. These data may provide insight into how therapies may be targeted to the brain regions regulating insulin sensitivity and resistance.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
The response would be very similar to the description of what our project covers, i.e. that we hope our work will be instrumental in helping to decrease the incidence of Alzheimer's disease in people with diabetes. As noted above, it is also possible that we will be able to dissect brain pathways which might be approachable because of their effects on peripheral insulin.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
I have been involved in Alzheimer's research for many years. Multiple therapeutic trials have failed, and new approaches are required, particularly as most researchers/physicians are now of the opinion that treatment will have to be initiated much earlier in the course of the disease in order to be effective. Thus, looking at associations with other diseases and pathways is one of these new directions. The chance to look at something novel and highly prevalent is exciting, and I would be unable to follow up on our results to date without additional funding directed specifically to this project.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
As I am new to the diabetes field, this is a difficult question for me to answer. There is of course hope for cell replacement therapies and a great effort should continue to be directed to programs and methods of effecting life-style changes that contribute in such large part to Type 2 diabetes. The effects of bariatric surgery on the metabolic syndrome and diabetes are fascinating. Although I would hope that such an invasive therapy would not become a treatment of choice, I that there will be significant research into how the surgery "corrects" many of the metabolic abnormalities prior to significant weight loss in many cases.
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