Category: Health & Medicine

Researchers Identify Potential Biomarker for AD

July 28th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine, Uncategorized 0 comments

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 28, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 

Researchers Identify Potential Biomarker for AD

 

(Boston)– Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) report variants in a new gene, PLXNA4, which may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The discovery of this novel genetic association may lead to new drug treatment options that target PLXNA4 specifically. These findings appear in the Annals of Neurology.

 

AD is the most frequent age-related dementia affecting 5.4 million Americans including 13 percent of people age 65 and older, and more than 40 percent of people age 85 and older. Genetic factors account for much of the risk for developing AD with heritability estimates between 60 percent and 80 percent. However much of the genetic basis for the disease is unexplained. Less than 50 percent of the genetic contribution to AD is supported by known common genetic variations.

 

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, the researchers obtained strong evidence of an association with several single nucleotide polymorphism in PLXNA4, a gene which had not been previously linked to AD. They then confirmed this finding in a larger dataset from the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium and other datasets. Next, they performed a series of experiments in models that pinpointed the mechanism by which this gene affects AD risk. “Importantly, this is one of few single studies which go from gene finding to mechanism,” explained corresponding author Lindsay Farrer, PhD, Chief of Biomedical Genetics and professor of medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology and biostatistics at BUSM.

 

According to the researchers a form of the protein encoded by this gene promotes formation of neurofibrillary tangles consisting of decomposed tau protein, one of the two pathological hallmarks of the disease. “We showed that PLXNA4 affects the processing of tau as it relates to neurofibrillary tangles, the primary marker of AD.  Most drugs that have been developed or that are in development for treating AD are intended to reduce the toxic form of beta-amyloid, a sticky substance that accumulates in the brain of persons with AD, and none have been very effective. Only a few drugs have targeted the tau pathway,” added Farrer.

 

This study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (R01-AG025259, P30-AG13846, R01-AG0001, U24-AG021886, U24-AG26395, R01-AG041797 and P50-AG005138), the Alzheimer Association, the Korean Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (#A110742), and the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research (ECIBR) ARC on “Protein Trafficking and Neurodegenerative Disease” at Boston University.

BU Researchers Discover that Klotho is Neuroprotective Against Alzheimer’s Disease Toxic Amyloid

July 28th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Gina DiGravio, (617)-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

BU Researchers Discover that Klotho is Neuroprotective Against

Alzheimer’s Disease Toxic Amyloid

 

(Boston)—Boston University School of Medicine researchers may have found a way to delay or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They discovered that pre-treatment of neurons with the anti-aging protein Klotho can prevent neuron death in the presence of the toxic amyloid protein and glutamate. These findings currently appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent age-related dementia affecting 5.4 million Americans including 13 percent of people age 65 and older and more than 40 percent of people over the age of 85. In AD the cognitive decline and dementia result from the death of nerve cells that are involved in learning and memory. The amyloid protein and the excess of the neurotransmitter, glutamate are partially responsible for the neuronal demise.

Nerve cells were grown in petri dishes and treated with or without Klotho for four hours. Amyloid or glutamate then were added to the dish for 24 hours. In the dishes where Klotho was added, a much higher percentage of neurons survived than in the dishes without Klotho.

“Finding a neuroprotective agent that will protect nerve cells from amyloid that accumulates as a function of age in the brain is novel and of major importance,” explained corresponding author

Carmela R. Abraham, PhD, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology at BUSM. “We now have evidence that if more Klotho is present in the brain, it will protect the neurons from the oxidative stress induced by amyloid and glutamate.

According to the researchers, Klotho is a large protein that cannot penetrate the blood brain barrier so it can’t be administered by mouth or injection. However in a separate study the researchers have identified small molecules that can enter the brain and increase the levels of Klotho. “We believe that increasing Klotho levels with such compounds would improve the outcome for Alzheimer’s patients, and if started early enough would prevent further deterioration. This potential treatment has implications for other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and brain trauma, as well,” added Abraham.

 

Funding for this study was provided by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

BUSM’s Michael F. Holick Receives American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Award

July 11th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 11, 2014

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

 

BUSM’s Michael F. Holick Receives American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Award

 

Boston—The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research awarded Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, of Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), with the 2014 Louis V. Avioli Award. Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at BUSM, is internationally known for revolutionizing the understanding of vitamin D and its role in disease prevention.

 

The award honors a member of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) for fundamental contributions to bone and mineral basic research. It is named for ASBMR’s first president and founding member, Louis Avioli, MD, who was one of the world’s leading medical authorities on osteoporosis and calcium metabolism. Holick will be recognized at the ASBMR Annual Meeting in September by the society’s president, Roberto Civitelli, MD.

 

“I am honored to receive this award named for my very close friend and trusted colleague,” said Holick. “I collaborated with Louis on multiple occasions, and he provided samples of blood from his patients that I used to identify, for the first time, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in human blood. This discovery led me to receiving a masters’ degree in biochemistry.”

Holick has revolutionized the field of vitamin D research with the identification of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, for which he received his PhD degree, which led to therapies for metabolic bone diseases, hypocalcemic disorders and psoriasis. His work raised awareness of the vitamin D deficiency epidemic and its role in causing metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis and increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, infectious diseases, heart disease and common deadly cancers.  He has helped develop guidelines for the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with vitamin D supplementation and sensible sun exposure.

 

The author of more than 500 publications, Holick received his doctorate in biochemistry and attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin before completing a residency in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 

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About the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research:  The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) is a professional, scientific and medical society established to bring together clinical and experimental scientists who are involved in the study of bone and mineral metabolism.

Comfort Level of Emergency Responders Trained in Active Shootings Scenario Increases Following Instruction

July 11th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, July 10, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 

 

Comfort Level of Emergency Responders Trained in Active Shootings Scenario Increases Following Instruction

 

(Boston) – Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders felt better prepared to respond to an active shooter incident after receiving focused tactical training according to a new study in the journal Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. This is the first study to specifically examine the EMS provider comfort level with respect to entering a scene where a shooter has not yet been neutralized or working with law enforcement personnel during that response.

 

Incidents such as the Columbine High School shooting, the Virginia Tech campus shooting, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and more recently, the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting remind us of the relative frequency of these events compared to most other mass casualty incidents for which EMS trains and prepares.

 

For this study, EMS providers responded to an anonymous survey both before and after a four-hour training session on joint EMS/police active shooter rescue team response. Survey questions focused on individual provider comfort level when responding to active shooter incidents compared to conventional HAZMAT incidents; comfort with providing medical care in an active shooter environment; perception of EMS provider role in an active shooter incident; and the appropriate timing of EMS response at the scene.

 

The survey results showed that more participants felt adequately trained to respond to an active shooter incident after focused training (87 percent) compared to before the training (36 percent) regardless of a providers prior tactical experience. Additionally, more EMS providers felt more comfortable working jointly on rescue operations with law enforcement personnel in response to an active shooter incident after training participation (93 percent) compared to before the training (61 percent).

 

According to the researchers, despite rapid deployment of law enforcement to neutralize an active shooter, it is not uncommon for a significant amount of time to pass before law enforcement has rendered the scene “safe.” “Unfortunately this unintentionally prolongs the time before victims can receive life-saving care on the scene, as well as at a definitive care facility,” explained lead author Jerrilyn Jones, MD, a clinical instructor of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and EMS Fellow at Boston EMS. “Our study showed that after receiving appropriate training, EMS providers felt better equipped to work on joint rescue operations even if an active shooter was still present,” added Jones, who also is an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center.

 

The researchers recommend further studies be undertaken to determine the significance of such training as well as the mortality impact on patient outcomes.

 

 

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BU Researchers Relate Arrests with HIV Risk Environment

July 9th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine, School of Public Health 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2014

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

 

BU Researchers Relate Arrests with HIV Risk Environment

 

Boston—Practices used in policing injection drug users in Russia might contribute to HIV transmission and overdose mortality.

 

A study, conducted by researchers from Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, in collaboration with St. Petersburg Pavlov State University, sought to discover the effect police arrests had on the health outcomes of a cohort of HIV-positive people with lifetime of injection drug use.

 

Those who were arrested by police were more likely to share needles—increasing HIV transmission—and to overdose, according to the study published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Their research also found no indication that police arrests reduce drug use.

 

“We already know that addressing individual risk behaviors is important in reducing HIV transmission among people who use drugs, who are most at risk for HIV infection,” said lead author Karsten Lunze, MD, MPH, DrPH, a BUSM assistant professor of medicine. “Our study adds that drug laws and policies, and the way they are enforced, are also important to prevent the spread of HIV.”

 

By linking the impact of police tactics with health outcomes of injection drug users, the researchers identified the need to create prevention programs for modifying individual behaviors and to address policing practices as part of the HIV risk environment.

 

“Instead of arresting people who use drugs, there should be more of a focus on facilitating access to treatment,” said Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, a professor of medicine and community health sciences at BUSM and BUSPH who also led the study. “Public health and public safety working together can help address the increasing problem of HIV among people who use drugs.”

 

Further research needs to relate these findings to the operational environment of law enforcement and to understand how police interventions among injection drug users can improve, rather than worsen, the HIV risk environment, the researchers said.

 

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Boston University Researchers and Collaborators Receive $12.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease

July 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, July 7, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 Boston University Researchers and Collaborators Receive $12.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Boston - Researchers from the Biomedical Genetics division of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) are part of a five-university collaboration receiving a $12.6 million, four-year grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to identify rare genetic variants that may either protect against, or contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

 

At BUSM, the Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA) is led by Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD, Chief of Biomedical Genetics and professor of medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, and biostatistics, who is the principal investigator. Other Boston University investigators include Kathryn Lunetta, PhD, professor of biostatistics; Gyungah Jun, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, ophthalmology and biostatistics; and Richard Sherva, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine.

 

CASA investigators will analyze whole exome and whole genome sequence data generated during the first phase of the NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Program, an innovative collaboration that began in 2012 between NIA and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), also part of NIH. They will analyze data from 6,000 volunteers with Alzheimer’s disease and 5,000 older individuals who do not have the disease. In addition, they will study genomic data from 111 large families with multiple members who have Alzheimer’s disease, mostly of Caucasian and Caribbean Hispanic descent to identify rare genetic variants.

 

“This is an exciting opportunity to apply new genomic technologies and computational methods to improve our understanding of the biological pathways underlying this disease,” said Farrer. “The genes and pathways we identify as integral to the Alzheimer process may become novel therapeutic targets,” he added.

 

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, has become an epidemic that currently affects as many as five million people age 65 and older in the United States, with economic costs that are comparable to, if not greater than, caring for those of heart disease or cancer. Available drugs only marginally affect disease severity and progression. While there is no way to prevent this disease, the discovery of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s is bringing researchers closer to learning how the genes work together and may help identify the most effective interventions.

 

This effort is critical to accomplishing the genetic research goals outlined in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, first announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in May 2012 and updated annually. Developed under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, the plan provides a framework for a coordinated and concentrated effort in research, care, and services for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Its primary research goal is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

 

With the current award, CASA joins the NHGRI Large-Scale Sequencing and Analysis Centers program, an NIH-supported consortium that provides large-scale sequence datasets and analysis to the biomedical community. CASA researchers will facilitate the analyses of all Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) and additional non-ADSP sequence data to detect protective and risk variants for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

 

“We are delighted to support the important research being accomplished under this broad-based, collaborative effort. A team effort is vital to advancing a deeper understanding of the genetic variants involved in this complex and devastating disease and to the shared goal of finding targets for effective interventions,” said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD.

 

 

“Alzheimer’s disease research is appropriately one of our highest priorities,” said BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD “We need more to better understand the genetic and environmental mechanisms that will come in part from CASA to develop more effective treatments or even better, to prevent the disease,” she added.

 

CASA is a collaboration of Boston University School of Medicine and four other American universities. Jonathan Haines, PhD, will lead the project at Case Western Reserve University; Richard Mayeux, MD, at Columbia University; Margaret Pericak-Vance, PhD, at the University of Miami; Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania; and Lindsay Farrar, PhD, at Boston University.

 

This research is supported by the NIA grant UF1-AG047133.

 

Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and more than 800 masters and PhD students.  Its 1,246 full and part-time faculty members generated more than $335 million in funding in the 2009-2010 academic year for research in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease, pulmonary disease and dermatology among others. The School is affiliated with Boston Medical Center, its principal teaching hospital, the Boston and Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Centers and 16 other regional hospitals as well as the Boston HealthNet.

Women Veterans Want Options and Follow up Support When Dealing with Intimate Partner Violence

July 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

 

Women Veterans Want Options and Follow up Support

When Dealing with Intimate Partner Violence

 

(Boston)–Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant health issue faced by women veterans, but little has been known up until now about their preferences for IPV-related care. A new study has found that most of these women support routine screening for IPV and want options, follow-up support, transparent documentation and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and community resources. These findings appear in the journal Research in Nursing and Health.

 

Although women of all socio-demographic groups are at risk for IPV, population-based research suggests that women veterans are at higher risk for IPV than non-veteran women. In order to better understand their attitudes and preferences regarding IPV screening and response issues, five focus groups were conducted with 24 female patients of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) with and without a lifetime history of IPV.

 

“In general, we found that women veterans support routine IPV screening and comprehensive IPV-related care within the VHA,” explained corresponding author Katherine Iverson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and a clinical research psychologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the VA’s National Center for PTSD. “As we move forward with routine IPV screening, it is important that these women are offered options in terms of what, how, when, and to whom to disclose and follow-up support. In addition, these women must be approached with sensitivity and connectedness with the understanding that different patients are in different stages of recovery.”

Overall, women indicated that the HITS screening tool [the four-item screening tool (Hurt/Insult/Threaten/Scream) tested by Iverson and her colleagues that can be used in under four minutes] could be useful in helping VHA providers identify women who have experienced IPV.  Using the existing clinical reminder dialogue system a notification could be imbedded into a patients’ electronic medical records (EMR’s) to use HITS to assess IPV, ensuring that screening is occurring. This would be similar to clinical EMRs for mammograms and pap smears.

 

The researchers point out that use of EMRs may be a potential barrier to disclose for some women because of privacy and confidentiality concerns. Study participants suggested that this barrier can be overcome by providers’ use of transparency with respect to documentation. For example, providers can talk with their patients about what they would like to document in the EMR and problem-solve any concerns the patients may raise. In addition, providers can discuss privacy protections in place at VHA and engage patients in conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of documentation. EMRs can also prompt providers to engage in other procedures that were recommended by participants in this study, such as offering information about VHA and community resources.

 

The researchers believe the VHA has a timely opportunity and is well-positioned to serve as a national model for the implementation of best practices for IPV screening and response. “By incorporating the recommendations expressed by women in this study, VHA and other health care providers may increase the likelihood of identifying IPV, improve patient satisfaction with care, connect veterans with the services they need, reduce healthcare costs to the patient and system at large, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of female veteran patients,” added Iverson.

 

This research was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) as part of Iverson’s HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA-2; 10-029) and the BUSM Lynne Stevens Award, which Iverson received in 2011.

 

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BMC Study: Treat Patients with Addiction During, After Hospitalization

July 2nd, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

BMC Study: Treat Patients with Addiction During, After Hospitalization

(Boston) – The results of a new study demonstrate that starting hospitalized patients who have an opioid (heroin) addiction on buprenorphine treatment in the hospital and seamlessly connecting them with an outpatient office based treatment program can greatly reduce whether they relapse after they are discharged.

Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC), the study shows the important role that providers play in offering these patients addiction treatment both while in the hospital and after – even if their primary reason for being in the hospital is not for their addiction.

In this study, 139 hospitalized individuals with opioid addiction who were not already in treatment were randomized into two groups. One group received a tapered dose treatment of buprenorphine for withdrawal and referral information about community treatment programs and the other were initiated on buprenorphine, an opioid substitute proven to treat opioid addiction, along with referral to a primary care office-based buprenorphine treatment program. Buprenorphine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction, is taken orally and helps to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Of those in the buprenorphine maintenance group, more than one third (37 percent) reported no illicit opioid/drug use for the month after they left the hospital compared to less than one in ten (nine percent) among the control group. These patients also reported, on average, fewer days of illicit drug use and continued to use less over the following six months. This effect was evident despite the fact that these patients did not initially come to the hospital seeking treatment for their addiction.

“Unfortunately, referral to substance abuse treatment after discharge is often a secondary concern of physicians caring for hospitalized patients,” said Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, a physician in general internal medicine at BMC and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who served as the study’s corresponding author. “However, our results show that we can have a marked impact on patient’s addiction by addressing it during their hospitalization.”

This study, which is published in JAMA – Internal Medicine, was done in collaboration with Butler Hospital in Rhode Island. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Reproduction Later in Life is a Marker for Longevity in Women

June 25th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 

Reproduction Later in Life is a Marker for Longevity in Women

 

(Boston)–Women who are able to naturally have children later in life tend to live longer and the genetic variants that allow them to do so might also facilitate exceptionally long life spans.

 

A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) study published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, says women who are able to have children after the age of 33 have a greater chance of living longer than women who had their last child before the age of 30.

 

“Of course this does not mean women should wait to have children at older ages in order to improve their own chances of living longer,” explained corresponding author Thomas Perls, MD, MPH. “The age at last childbirth can be a rate of aging indicator. The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly, and therefore so is the rest of her body.”

 

The study was based on analysis of data from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS)—a biopsychosocial and genetic study of 551 families with many members living to exceptionally old ages. Boston Medical Center, the teaching hospital affiliate of BUSM, is one of four study centers that make up the LLFS. The study investigators determined the ages at which 462 women had their last child and how old those women lived to be. The research found that women who had their last child after the age of 33 years had twice the odds of living to 95 years or older compared with women who had their last child by age 29.

 

The findings also indicate that women may be the driving force behind the evolution of genetic variants that slow aging and decrease risk for age-related genes, which help people live to extreme old age.

 

“If a woman has those variants, she is able to reproduce and bear children for a longer period of time, increasing her chances of passing down those genes to the next generation,” said Perls, the director of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS), a principal investigator of the LLFS and a professor of medicine at BUSM. “This possibility may be a clue as to why 85 percent of women live to 100 or more years while only 15 percent of men do.”

 

The results of this study are consistent with other findings on the relationship between maternal age at birth of last child and exceptional longevity. Previously,  the NECS found that women who gave birth to a child after the age of 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who had their last child at a younger age.

 

The results of Perls’ study show the importance of future research on the genetic influences of reproductive fitness because they may also impact a person’s rate of aging and susceptibility to age-related diseases, according to the researchers.

 

Also contributing to this study were researchers from Boston University School of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania.

 

The Long Life Family Study is funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health.

BUSM Researchers Investigating Ways to Improve Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

June 20th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, June 20, 2014
Contact:
Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

BUSM Researchers Investigating Ways to Improve Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

(Boston) – A better understanding of how the transcription factor Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARgamma) works is critical to find new ways to improve medications to treat type 2 diabetes. Drugs that activate PPARgamma, called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), have long been regarded as a treatment for type 2 diabetes based on their anti-inflammatory and potent insulin-sensitizing activity. When taken orally, TZDs help decrease insulin resistance. However, most medications in that class have now been withdrawn from the market, or severely limited in their usage, given their dangerous side effects, which include weight gain, water retention and heart failure.

One promising approach to target PPARgamma to treat the issues related to type 2 diabetes is to dissect the regulatory strategies that control different subsets of PPARgamma target genes in cells. The ultimate goal would be to target the “negative” side of PPARgamma activity without impacting on the “good” ones.

A recent study led by BUSM researchers, published in Cell Reports, identifies one such strategy regulating fat tissue activity and PPARgamma in adipose cells. It is based on a group of cellular factors that bind to DNA and help PPARgamma in the regulation of a specific subset of target genes, including enzymes important for the mobilization of lipids.

“There is a great need to develop new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes,” said Valentina Perissi, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at BUSM and the study’s corresponding author. “Targeting PPARgamma still represents a powerful approach, however we need to further improve our understanding of PPARgamma function and how its activity is regulated in normal cells in order develop more effective treatments.”

To view the full study, visit http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(14)00435-5

 

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