Thanks to a grant awarded through federal stimulus research funding, a Kansas State University biochemist has more funding for research that could eventually help diabetics preserve their eyesight.
Dolores Takemoto, a K-State professor of biochemistry, received more than $366,000 from the National Eye Institute to study how a particular enzyme affects the lens. Her research looks at protein kinase C gamma, called PKC gamma, and how it is controlled in normal cells versus the loss of control in diabetics.
PKC gamma helps control gap junctions -- the connections created between certain types of cells. Diabetics and people with the metabolic disease galactosemia have less PKC gamma in their lenses. When PKC gamma is decreased, control of these intercellular connections is lost, resulting in damage to the lens cells.
Takemoto's research seeks to determine how several mechanisms control PKC gamma in normal lenses and how control of PKC gamma alters gap junction activity and assembly. Takemoto also wants to understand how diabetes and galactosemia decrease PKC gamma and how this affects gap junctions.
Greater understanding will provide direction for scientists to design drugs that prevent diabetics from losing PKC gamma, according to Takemoto.
To date, K-State has cleared more than $1.5 million in grants awarded through federal stimulus research funding.