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Diabetes Health Center

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Protein May Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Protein, Called Pdx1, Turns on Insulin Production in Lab Tests on Diabetic Mice
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 9, 2008 -- Researchers report promising results from early lab tests for a new type 1 diabetes treatment.

Those lab tests -- which were conducted in mice, not people -- center on a protein called Pdx1. When mice with type 1 diabetes got Pdx1 injected into their bellies, their insulin levels returned to near-normal levels within two weeks.

Pdx1 spurred the regeneration of pancreatic cells that are destroyed by type 1 diabetes, according to the study.

"Pdx1 is so special because it possesses a unique amino acid sequence that acts as sort of [a] molecular passport, allowing it to pass freely into cells, enter the nucleus, and activate insulin production and release," researcher Li-Jun Yang, MD, says in a news release.

Yang's team calls for further studies of Pdx1 as a potential treatment for type 1 diabetes.

The study, published online in the journal Diabetes, was preliminary; it didn't test the long-term safety and effectiveness of Pdx1.

Yang is a founder and member of the scientific advisory board of Transgeneron Therapeutics Inc., which is seeking to develop Pdx1 as a type 1 diabetes treatment. The University of Florida holds a provisional patent on Pdx1 protein therapy, notes a University of Florida news release.

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