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Protein May Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Protein, Called Pdx1, Turns on Insulin Production in Lab Tests on Diabetic Mice

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 09, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

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.