The Big News in Protein Study Funding for Diabetes: One research institute has received more than a million dollars to fund a series of tests designed to study a protein linked to the development of obesity and diabetes. The three years of research will take place in Florida.
Patricia McDonald, an associate scientific director in the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida was quoted in a press release following word of the $1.3 million in funding, “Because obesity and diabetes are two of the most serious health problems facing us, the need for novel treatments has never been greater,” McDonald said. “Some recent studies in animal models have shown that activating the G protein-coupled receptor GPR119 improves glucose homeostasis or balance, while positively affecting both food intake and weight gain. This funding will help us design new assays that will explore the overall potential of GPR119 – and may one day lead to more effective treatments.”
The press release continued, “G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse protein family in the human genome. They transduce or convert extracellular stimuli including neurotransmitters, light, hormones, lipids, and peptides into intracellular signals through a number of signaling pathways. Approximately one third, and perhaps as many as half, of currently marketed drugs are designed to target these receptors.
“GPR119 is expressed predominantly in the pancreas and gut of humans and rodents and in the rat brain. When activated, the receptor promotes secretion of a specific hormone, called Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1), in the intestines, which in turn increases insulin secretion from the pancreas; both are key components in regulating the balance of glucose in the body. Although some modulators of GPR119 have been discovered, they do not necessarily mimic the receptor’s natural ligand and have thus turned out to be mostly unsuitable for use in studying the receptor’s biology and function.”
One of the most fascinating, and science altering discoveries in our most recent past is the human genome project. This information will be used in the new Scripps research, “With the human genome sequenced, science now has a good handle on just how many GPCRs exist – at least 1,000 or more. Of those, McDonald said, scientists have a good understanding of what approximately 200 of them actually do and what activates them; another 600 or so are involved in taste and smell. The remaining receptors are known as orphan receptors, whose function and natural ligands have yet to be discovered,” according to the release.
McDonald said, “This funding is so important to eventually find[ing] more effective treatments for diabetes and obesity.”
The crucial funding provided to Scripps Research will be used to follow several potential scenarios in which these body proteins can be used to help individuals manage their weight as well as diabetic risk.
The press release describes Scripps Research as, “One of the world’s largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians.”
Their collective brain trust will be called upon to learn what they can from G-protein as relates to the effective management of weight and diabetic control.