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Archive for the ‘Diabetes Research’ Category

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about that Monday morning cup of coffee

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-23-2012

In what I feel might be the most important piece of journalism published last week, the LA Times reported that scientists have uncovered the compound that is responsible for lowering the risk of type two diabetes in coffee drinkers.

According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Coffee Components Inhibit Amyloid Formation of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (hIAPP), a documented causative factors of type 2 diabetes.

Why you’ll never find a Muppet with type 2 diabetes:

Apparently, the editors at the Times may have been a few cups behind themselves since the original paper was published in November of last year. Nonetheless, with this kind of news, it is better to hear it late than never.

I just hope that the authors were diligent with their research methods and not dishonest like the UConn scientist who published fraudulent data bolstering the beneficial effects of resveratrol which is found in red wine and has allegedly been linked to improved cardiac health. It has taken me many difficult mornings to recover from that report and I have become quite depressed realizing that my morning after hangovers were for naught. Indeed, my only consulation has come from knowing that the coffee I have consumed to counter the negative effects of drinking too many cups or red wine, (all for their cardioprotective effects of course), wil go a long way to protecting me from acquiring type 2 diabetes.

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2011, 59 (24), pp 13147–13155, Publication Date (Web): November 7, 2011 (Article), DOI: 10.1021/jf201702h

Multiplex Analysis of Diabetes and Cytokine Biomarker Expression

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-25-2010

Bio-Rad Laboratories recently announced the launch of 2 multiplex bead array panels for scientist engaged in Diabetes research. The assays are for the detection of 8 mouse and 10 human biomarkers of diabetes and obesity and can be run on Bio-Rad’s Bio-Plex instrument (or other Luminex based platforms).

The Bio-Plex Pro Diabetes Assays only require 12.5 ug of sample and will produce accurate and sensitive results in under 3 hours.

In recognition of the important role that cytokines play in the progression of diabetes, Bio-Rad has ensured that the Bio-Plex Pro Diabetes Assay is fully compatible with its Bio-Plex Pro cytokine, chemokine and growth factor assays. Now diabetes researchers can perform a multi-plex analysis in order to quantify the most important diabetes biomarkers AND cytokine, chemokine and growth factor expression from just 12.5 ug of sample…all in the same tube! This is a huge benefit to any diabetes researcher as it helps eliminate inter-experimental variability that can arise when quantifying analytes from different aliquots of the same sample.

The Bio-Plex Pro Mouse Diabetes Assay includes a multiplex analysis of Ghrelin, GIP, GLP-1, glucagon, insulin, leptin, PAI-1 and Resistin. The Bio-Plex Pro Human Diabetes Assay quantifies levels of c-peptide, visfatin, ghrelin, GIP, GLP-1, glucagon, insulin, leptin, PAI-1 and Resistin in your 12.5 ul sample.

See the Bio-Plex Pro Mouse Diabetes Assay and the
Bio-Plex Pro Human Diabetes Assay brochures from Bio-Rad Laboratories for more information on ordering options and assay parameters including sensitivity, cross-reactivity, assay range and specificity.

Linking Diabetes and Cancer: Where’s the Evidence?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-21-2010

If you’ve been following the Diabetes news lately, you likely noticed that two stories have dominated the news over the last couple of days. The first is a widely published study that implicates the consumption of white rice (as opposed to brown rice) in increased incidents of diabetes and the second relates to emerging evidence linking diabetes and cancer. According to a recent report published by Giovannucci et al in CA (A Cancer Journal for Clinicians), despite there being a high degree of epidemiologic evidence linking cancer and diabetes the biological mechanism linking the two diseases is poorly understood.

Considering that both of these diseases are highly prevalent among the world’s population one needs to ask why, if indeed there is a biological link between the two diseases, it has not been studied as of yet. Could it be that scientists are so focused on their particular field of interest that they are ignoring the “bigger scientific picture?” Or perhaps the grant-funding mechanism is biased towards individual diseases thereby influencing researchers to channel their efforts on one disease at a time. The fact that we commonly measure research funding by discipline seems to support this segregated approach. According to the NIH’s Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC), Cancer is the third most funded disease category in the United States and is expected to receive over $6 Billion dollars in funding in 2011. This is compared to $2 billion for the study of cardiovascular disease and $1 billion for the study of diabetes. Scientists applying for grant funding must surely consider the availability of cash prior to beginning the grant writing process (imagine how hard it must be to receive funding for the study of Paget’s Disease which only receives $1 million per year in grant funding) and would be wise to pay homage to the source of their funding when considering the focus of their research publications. After all, if a scientist received funding from the American Diabetes Association, should we expect their research efforts to focus more on diabetes or cancer? If all of their publications detailed the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s Disease how likely would it be for the ADA to renew the researcher’s grant funding? So the question remains: does this type of silo-ed approach to funding bias against valuable inter-disciplinary research?

Taking a less sinister approach, it is possible that the paucity of studies linking biological mechanisms in diabetes and cancer is due to the fact that the connection is not as obvious as it may seem. According to Giovannucci, Cancer and diabetes are diagnosed within the same individual more frequently than would be expected by chance. Nonetheless, both diseases are complex, with multiple subtypes and therefore it would be difficult to find a generic link between the two diseases. Moreover, as highlighted in Table 1 of the study, diabetes is associated with an increased risk of some cancers (liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon/rectum, breast, and bladder), a reduced risk of others (such as prostate cancer) and no association at all with other forms of cancer. Yet many questions still remain. Are the associations that have been observed direct or indirect? Does diabetes increase the risk of cancer or do they simply share common risk factors? These questions are compounded by the fact that there are multiple categorizations for both diseases (there are more than 50 subtypes of cancer alone) making it rather difficult to point to a link between what we broadly term as “cancer” and “diabetes.”

Despite coming out with a joint statement encouraging inter-disciplinary studies, The American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association discourage studies exploring links between diabetes and risk of all cancers combined. They explain this caveat using the example that because lung cancer does not appear to be meaningfully linked with diabetes, including this common cancer in studies will dilute observed associations, should they exist.

According to the joint statement the consensus seems to be that future studies should focus on uncovering potential biological links between the two diseases and that research should focus particularly on the following questions:

Is there a meaningful association between diabetes and cancer incidence or prognosis?
What risk factors are common to both cancer and diabetes?
What are possible biologic links between diabetes and cancer risk?
And do diabetes treatments influence cancer risk or cancer prognosis?

Whether the lack of information on biological links between diabetes and cancer has been due to a myopic view of diabetes and cancer researchers, a biased model of research funding or the difficulty in discerning connections between two very complex pathologies (I tend to subscribe to this last statement), it is clear that the statement of the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association will help set the way for much needed inter-disciplinary research in the years to come.

Giovannucci, E., Harlan, D., Archer, M., Bergenstal, R., Gapstur, S., Habel, L., Pollak, M., Regensteiner, J., & Yee, D. (2010). Diabetes and Cancer: A Consensus Report CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians DOI: 10.3322/caac.20078

Stem Cells Attenuate Negative Impact of Cytokines in Diabetes

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-10-2010

The pathophysiology of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes involves activation of the inflammatory response and the upregulation of cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-6. Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease that attacks beta-islet cells in the pancreas. Past studies have shown that injecting bone marrow cells (BMCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into sublethally irradiated diabetic mice rapidly returns blood glucose and serum insulin concentrations to normal levels through a mechanism that involves the regeneration of recipient-derived pancreatic insulin-secreting cells and inhibition of T-cell-mediated immune responses against newly formed beta-cells(1).

There is a large body of evidence supporting MSCs immunosuppressive function which was recently the subject of a review published by Ghannam et al. in Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2). Due to their hypoimmunogenicity, MSCs have generated a lot of interest as having potential therapeutic applications in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

More recent studies have looked at the use of Human Umbilical Cord Blood (HUCB) as preferred source of stem cells because of its easy availability and low potential for graft-versus-host disease and tumorigenicity. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that HUCB-derived stem cells can differentiate into insulin-secreting beta-cells and that administration of HUCB cells improves blood glucose levels in diabetic animals (3).

Whatever their source, stem cell therapy is showing significant promise in the treatment of diabetes. Below is an interesting video that I found that eloquently describes the benefits of stem cell therapy in type 2 diabetes.

For a very thorough introduction to stem cell technology, see the Stem Cell Basics for Life Science Researchers booklet from Bio-Rad Laboratories.

(1) Urbán VS, Kiss J, Kovács J, Gócza E, Vas V, Monostori E, & Uher F. (2008) Mesenchymal stem cells cooperate with bone marrow cells in therapy of diabetes. Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio), 26(1), 244-53. PMID: 17932424

(2) Ghannam S, Bouffi C, Djouad F, Jorgensen C, & Noël D. (2010) Immunosuppression by mesenchymal stem cells: mechanisms and clinical applications. Stem cell research & therapy, 1(1), 2. PMID: 20504283

(3)Reddi AS, Kuppasani K, & Ende N. (2010) Human Umbilical Cord Blood as an Emerging Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes Mellitus. Current stem cell research & therapy. PMID: 20528762

Linking Diabetes and Mood Disorders

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-10-2010

In a recent press release a group from Vanderbilt University Medical Center lead by Dr. Galli Niswender has announced that they have discovered a molecular link between impaired insulin signaling in the brain and schizophrenia-like behaviors in mice. The researchers developed mice with an insulin-signaling defect only in neurons. They found that the mice have behavioral abnormalities similar to those frequently seen in patients with schizophrenia. They also showed how defects in insulin signaling disrupt neurotransmitter levels in the brain which resulted from elevated levels of the transporter protein (NET) that removes norepinephrine and dopamine from the synaptic space between neurons.

Moodiness associated with diabetes can have a significant impact on social lives and relationships. In this personal video, Bill the “Happy Diabetic” describes how his sugar levels impact on his mood and his relationship with his wife.

Dr. Niswender’s group has shown that by treating mice with NET inhibitors (drugs that block NET activity), they were able to restore normal dopamine levels and behaviors. Clinical trials are now underway which may offer a novel approach to the treatment of insulin associated mood disorders.

The findings are to be published next week in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology.