December 2009 eUpdate
December 22, 2009
A Multi-Pronged Attack on Beta Cell Destruction
Within the last year, one of our type 1 diabetes clinical trials involving an effective cancer drug concluded. Results published in November 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows that anti-CD20 (FDA approved and marketed as Rituxan) has been shown to be effective in new onset diabetes by slowing down the progression of the disease. Not only is it exciting that this drug appears to have a therapeutic effect, it also clearly shows that another immune cell besides the T cell -- the B cell -- is critical in diabetes development. Because of these results, it will be important to create drugs that will target both T cells and B cells. The significance of this research is that a multi-pronged approach with multiple, combination therapies will most likely be required for diabetes to be treated or cured. [ NEJM publication ] [ US News & World Report ] [ Endocrine Today ]
UCSF Research Featured in National Diabetes Publication
Three Diabetes Center affiliated researchers are featured in a recent issue of Forefront magazine , a publication of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Robert Farese Jr., MD, a senior scientist at the UCSF Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, is studying the biology of fat storage. In this Forefront article (pages 7-9), Dr. Farese shares how he became involved in the issues of obesity and type 2 diabetes. He also discusses his current research that is focused on understanding how cells synthesize and store neutral fats such as triglycerides. On page 10 of this publication, Christian Vaisse, MD, PhD of the UCSF Diabetes Center describes how he is investigating the genetic causes of obesity. Dr. Vaisse has been working with a gene called melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) that plays a role in severe human obesity. When mutated, MC4R accounts for 1 to 6 percent of pediatric cases of severe obesity. Not only does Dr. Vaisse hope that his research involving MC4R will lead to new anti-obesity therapeutics, he hopes to identify new pathways involved in obesity. Lastly on page 31 of Forefront, James "Jay" Gardner , an MD/PhD candidate in the lab of Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, discusses his research involving AIRE, a gene that helps teach developing immune cells in the thymus how to identify and not attack "self." In the team's breakthrough discovery, a "back-up" system has been identified that appears to catch any dangerous T cells that may have escaped the thymus. All three of these researchers are receiving funding from the ADA.
NOTES AND NEWS
Television News Stories Focus on Type 1 Diabetes and UCSF
In conjunction with last month's National Diabetes Month, KPIX CBS 5 in San Francisco spotlighted the work of the Diabetes Center at UCSF. On November 10th, CBS 5 Healthwatch Doctor Kim Mulvihill, MD discussed an experimental drug called anti-CD3 and how it may stop beta cell destruction in type 1 diabetes. [ anti-CD3 news story ] On November 18th, a second story aired that addressed the question, "Are We Too Clean For Our Own Good?" In this story, Dr. Mulvihill discusses the hygiene hypothesis and how it may be the reason why the incidence of type 1 diabetes is increasing. [ clean theory news story ] In both reports, Center Director Jeff Bluestone, PhD, and Pediatric Diabetes Program Director Steve Gitelman, MD, were interviewed.
New UCSF Chancellor Named Among Forbes "Most Powerful Innovators"
Forbes magazine’s annual feature on the Most Powerful People included UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, among the world’s seven Most Powerful Innovators. The story appearing in the November 30 issue called Desmond-Hellmann a “hero to legions of cancer patients” for her role in the development of the cancer drugs Avastin and Herceptin. Selected by Michael Cima, director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, the seven were lauded for their curiosity, empathy and leadership. He also cited their deep understanding of problems and their ability to listen, bring a different perspective and use their “infectious enthusiasm” to draw out the skills from others to solve the “great problems” of our time. [ Most Powerful Innovators story ] Desmond-Hellmann was also one of several women leaders highlighted in the fall issue of Forbes Woman magazine. The story, titled “Mythbusters: Who Says Women Can’t Do Math and Science?,” examines the increase in the number of women in science and engineering and the rise of some of these women to top leadership roles at corporations and universities. [ Mythbusters story ]
The Diabetes Center at UCSF is among the premier institutions for clinical trials of emerging therapies in diabetes. Numerous clinical trials in type 1 and 2 diabetes are now underway.
Interested in participating? A sample of our trials currently enrolling patients:
Type 1 Diabetes: Thymoglobulin Intervention Study Seeking volunteers, 12 to 35 years of age, within 100 days of diagnosis [ JDRF story link ]
Type 1 Diabetes: GAD Study Seeking volunteers, 10 to 45 years of age, within 3 months of diagnosis
Type 1 Diabetes: HOKT3Y1 (ALA-ALA - ANTI-CD3) Study Seeking volunteers, 8 to 30 years of age, within 12 months of diagnosis
Type 1 Diabetes: Islet Transplantation with Belatacept Seeking volunteers 18 and older, with type 1 diabetes and weighing less than 175 lbs
Type 2 Diabetes: Paleolithic-Type Diets and Metabolic Control Seeking volunteers 18 years of age and older with type 2 diabetes
Non-Diabetes: Alpha Lipoic Acid and Insulin Resistance Seeking volunteers 20 to 60 years of age
Non-Diabetes: Chromium and Insulin Resistance Seeking volunteers 20 to 50 years of age, not exercising regularly, and of normal body weight
YEAR-END MESSAGE FROM OUR CENTER DIRECTOR
It is hard to believe that we are just days away from the end of the decade, and nearly ten years since the founding of the UCSF Diabetes Center. I am grateful for the progress we continue to make toward preventing, treating and ultimately curing diabetes.
We recently created a document, 2009 Research Highlights, that describes how our dedicated researchers and physicians are making discoveries that are being rapidly turned into potential treatments for diabetes. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this document, please contact Suzanne Ritchie.
We view our relationship with you as a partnership. We know how much diabetes impacts your life and how you dream of a cure. Your passion motivates us to continue to innovate and make new discoveries that will have a lasting impact for you and your loved ones.
On behalf of the faculty and staff of the UCSF Diabetes Center, I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.
Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD
Diabetes Center at UCSF
If you wish to receive more information about the UCSF Diabetes Center’s clinical and research programs, or would like to financially support one or more of these efforts, please contact Suzanne Ritchie at 415-476-6334. You may also visit our donation website and designate your gift to “The Diabetes Center."
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