January 30, 2015

Medical Research: Florida scientists and researchers make inroads

Updates on research being done in Florida: Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, HIV, stem cells, cancer and diabetes,

Amy Keller | 6/1/2012

Diabetes

Juan Dominguez-Bendala
Juan Dominguez-Bendala
» Insulin Producers
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Researchers at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have successfully transformed stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells that might potentially be used to treat of diabetes. The next phase of that research, which is being spearheaded by Dr. Juan Dominguez-Bendala, involves introducing “suicide genes” into the cells to get rid of non-insulin-producing beta cells and other proliferating cells that form tumors.

» Sugar Burner
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Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have discovered a protein that can make muscles store and burn sugar faster. Meanwhile, Dr. Layton Smith, an assistant professor and director of drug discovery at Sanford-Burnham, recently received a $477,500 Novo Nordisk Diabetes Innovation Award to further his research into apelin, a compound that plays an important role in glucose uptake by cells and that could have potential as a protein-based therapy for treating type 2 diabetes.

Other key developments in diabetes research at Sanford-Burnham:

» Drug Reactions
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Researchers have identified genetic variations that cause diabetics to respond differently to beta blockers, a class of drugs used to treat cardio- vascular disease.

» Fighting Fat
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Scientists have isolated a hormone produced by the brain called orexin that activates calorie-burning brown fat in mice. Since an orexin deficiency is associated with obesity, orexin-based therapy could form the basis for a new class of fat-fighting drugs.

Tags: Healthcare

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