Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) July 17, 2014
One significant ray of hope for the millions suffering from the global pandemic of diabetes is coming from America’s heartland. Over the last two years, a dream team of diverse and talented scientists has been assembled at the University of Iowa’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) in collaboration to find new keys to preventing and curing this devastating disease.
The community service organization Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) presented a $6 million donation to the University of Iowa at its national convention on Sunday, July 13, in Orlando, FL. The check fulfills a $25 million commitment made in 2008. Founded in 1898, the Eagles fund research in areas such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer, and raise money for neglected and abused children and the aged, as well as work for social and civic change.
E. Dale Abel, MBBS, DPhil (MD, PhD) and FOEDRC Director, believes the institution is uniquely positioned to make significant advances within the next decade. “The fact that we have tremendous resources that came about because of the support of the Fraternal Order of Eagles has created the opportunity for our scientists to be as creative as possible,” explains Dr. Abel. “We are able to invest our time and efforts in important experiments which initially might be very difficult to get funding from more traditional sources. Just like in the stock market, sometimes you have to take a bit of a risk to get a high reward.”
Here are just a few examples of some of the promising research currently ongoing at the FOEDRC and that will be housed in the soon to be opened state of the art FOEDRC research facility at the University of Iowa:
Helping people with diabetes increase their metabolism to burn off fat and lose weight can lead to improvement in their diabetes control. Dr. Chris Adams has identified some new compounds and drugs from natural products such as apple peels that can increase muscle metabolism.
Dr. Vitor Lira is also working on muscle metabolism and is studying how muscle responds to exercise in ways that prevent certain diabetic complications in the heart. His research aims to come up with new ways to prevent heart muscle damage even in people who are not able to exercise very well.
One of the major problems in diabetes is that the liver overproduces glucose. Dr. Eric Taylor is studying how the liver makes glucose and has identified a new protein that actually regulates this process. The ability to block that protein represents a new treatment for reducing blood sugar in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes have worse cholesterol levels and fats in the blood and is one of the reasons why they have more heart attacks. Dr. Brandon Davies studies the way that abnormal fats and cholesterol enter the blood stream. Based on his work, we may have new ways to lower fat accumulation that causes many of the complications of diabetes.
Dr. Matthew Potthoff is studying a new hormone called FGF-21, which may be more potent than insulin in terms of improving blood glucose and metabolism. It is very likely that this will ultimately become a new and important treatment for diabetes.
Dr Julien Sebag has figured out a new pathway in the brain that regulates appetite. He is also coming up with designer drugs targeting specific parts of the brain to reduce appetite without side effects affecting mood and energy. His work may lead to new and safer treatments to promote weight loss, a key to treating and preventing diabetes.
Dr. Ling Yang studies how diabetes causes liver damage. It turns out that the increase in diabetes in the world is causing a corresponding increase in liver damage and liver cancer. She is figuring out why that happens and how we can take preventive measures.
Dr. James Ankrum is a bioengineer who has designed microscopic nano particles capable of delivering drugs to beta cells that can be transplanted into the body without rejection by the immune system. These cells can then restore pancreatic function for longer periods of time than what is currently possible. Dr. Ankrum is also well known for inventing a painless hypodermic needle inspired by the structure of porcupine quills.
Dr Abel’s own group is studying why people with diabetes are at greater risk for heart failure. They are investigating why high levels of insulin in people with insulin resistance might be damaging to the heart, exploring how to reduce that damage but at the same time maintaining people’s diabetes control.
Other groups in the FOEDRC working across the University of Iowa campus are studying new treatments to prevent diabetic nerve damage, new ways to detect early diabetic eye disease, better ways to treat and prevent high blood pressure in diabetics and testing new pumps and sensors for kids and adults with Type 1 diabetes that can automatically measure blood sugar levels and adjust insulin doses 24 hours per day.