[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 29-Aug-2013
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Contact: Kurtis Hiatt
kkhiatt@gwu.edu
202-994-1849
George Washington University

Type 2 diabetes study to examine role amylin plays in disease

WASHINGTON—A George Washington University researcher will receive $1.3 million over the next five years from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for research that will help better understand how type 2 diabetes develops, possibly informing the development of novel treatments to reverse the disease.

The research is particularly important given 150 million people worldwide suffer from type 2 diabetes--a number expected to double over the next 20 years.

Aleksandar Jeremic, an associate professor of biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, along with a team of GW undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, will study the role amylin--a hormone that, like insulin, is secreted by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels--plays in the development of type 2 diabetes. When amylin aggregates in the pancreas and forms protein deposits, it can kill insulin-producing beta-cells, leading to type 2 diabetes.

Using high-resolution imaging approaches such as confocal and atomic force microscopy, which can produce a scan at the nanometer resolution, the GW team will investigate the molecular and biochemical events that lead to the aggregation of human amylin.

"We know of many factors, such as poor diet and inactivity, that contribute to type 2 diabetes," Dr. Jeremic said. "What is less clear, but no less important, is the role amylin plays in the development of the disease. Our research may also provide a better understanding of the biological role of this important signaling molecule in the human body."

Ultimately, the information could contribute to new treatments for type 2 diabetes, for example, by preventing the aggregation of amylin or making cells less susceptible to the toxic effects of the buildup.

The project, "Molecular Mechanisms of Amylin Trafficking and Toxicity in Human Pancreatic Islets," NIH grant R01DK091845, will be funded by the NIDDK, part of the National Institutes of Health, for the next five years.

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The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Established in 1821 in the heart of the nation's capital, the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of GW's academic units. It encompasses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and more than 40 departments and programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. The Columbian College provides the foundation for GW's commitment to the liberal arts and a broad education for all students. An internationally recognized faculty and active partnerships with prestigious research institutions place Columbian College at the forefront in advancing policy, enhancing culture and transforming lives through research and discovery.

The George Washington University

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.



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