JDRF and Johnson & Johnson announced an award to PDRC faculty member Steven Chessler to continue his laboratory's exploration of beta cell surface proteins. For a primer on these proteins, check out our article about Dr. Chessler's patent earlier this year.
Dr. Chessler hopes this project will bring his lab closer to identifying drug therapies to preserve the function of beta cells, which in turn may delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when functioning beta cells diminish to such a point that they can't secrete enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels under control.
These therapies may also be helpful for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the degradation of beta cells generally leads first to the necessity of oral treatments and then, over the years, an ever-greater reliance on injected insulin.
Dr. Chessler's lab will deploy a couple of strategies to reach their goals. Specifically, they seek to identify agents that will introduce an extra supply of the proteins to beta cells. Secondly, they hope to identify an agent that will promote the clustering of the proteins at the beta cell surface. If the lab is successful in achieving these specific discoveries, they will have a roadmap for bringing a new diabetes therapy into the spectrum of clinical care.