September 2009 eUpdate
UCSF Diabetes Center Launches New Website…Like Our New Look?
This month our new Diabetes Center website, www.diabetes.ucsf.edu , went live. After conducting extensive market research with many of you, we feel we have created a website that is much more informative and “user friendly.” Please take a look and email us your thoughts and suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Type 1 Research Discovery Involving Regulatory T Cells
Center Director Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD and his lab staff have been leading the way in exploring regulatory T cells. These cells are instrumental in suppressing an autoimmune response and attack on insulin-producing beta cells. In the July issue of Nature Immunology, this research team announced its most recent breakthrough -- how regulatory T cells sometimes shift from their usual protective state to a destructive state -- killing cells and causing autoimmune disease. This change of function involves a protein called FoxP3 made by the regulatory T cell. When regulatory T cells quit making FoxP3, these normally good cells turn bad, becoming memory T cells that destroy beta cells in type 1 diabetes. [ UCSF News Office Story ] Additionally, these investigators are rapidly advancing research on the beneficial effect of increasing the numbers of protective regulatory T cells. In approximately six months, they expect to launch the first human clinical trials using an individual’s own regulatory T cells.
UCSF Collaboration Helps Uncover Key Step in Stem Cell Research: May Help Solve Beta Cell Source Problem
In the July issue of Nature , a team of researchers at UCSF, Jerusalem and Portugal announced that they have identified a gene, Chd1, that is required for embryonic stem cells to keep their all-purpose, pluripotent state. By “suspending” these stem cells from their normal “dynamic” state (where they rapidly progress from undifferentiated to differentiated cells) into an “open” state (where they remain pluripotent and undifferentiated), these researchers hope to learn how cells acquire their specialized states. They also hope to learn if mature cells such as insulin-producing beta cells can be reprogrammed back into their pluripotent state and serve as a viable option for creating an unlimited source of beta cells for transplantation. Diabetes Center faculty member Miguel Ramalho-Santos, PhD, a NIH New Innovator Award grantee, was the lead author on the paper and partnered closely with his Diabetes Center faculty colleague, Michael McManus, PhD. Chd1 was discovered by using a powerful technique perfected by Dr. McManus called RNA interference, or RNAi, that helps researchers to understand the underlying biology of stem cells. Previous issues of the eUpdate have focused on RNAi and the role it may play in diabetes and other diseases. [ UCSF News Office Story ] [ RNAi eUpdate Story ]
Physician Researcher Describes a Class of Drugs That May Reduce Beta Cell Death
Diabetes Center/QB3 researcher and San Francisco General Hospital endocrinologist, Feroz Papa, MD, PhD, has uncovered a new class of drugs that may prevent death of stressed cells, a mechanism that is thought to underlie diseases such as type 2 diabetes. A NIH New Innovator Award grantee, Dr. Papa’s research has focused on the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – a cellular compartment of the cell where insulin is initially synthesized. Dr. Papa believes that during the gradual development of type 2 diabetes, the stress of processing large amounts of insulin will overwork the ER of the beta cell – eventually leading to beta cell death. In the August issue of Cell , Dr. Papa describes how a cellular protein called IRE1 serves as a life-or-death switch for cells experiencing ER stress. Dr. Papa and his UCSF collaborator, Scott Oakes, MD , decided that the best way to reduce cell death due to ER stress is to create drugs that target IRE1. These drugs named KIRAs (Kinase Inhibitory RNAse Attenuators) may protect cells by reducing the death signals being sent by IRE1. Stated acting NIH Director Raynard Kington, MD, PhD, “Dr. Papa’s discovery opens up promising new approaches for saving crucial insulin-producing cells. This is exactly the type of research that the New Innovator Program was designed to foster.” [ UCSF News Office Story ]
UCSF Diabetes Educator Extraordinaire Receives Prestigious National Award
In August, UCSF’s Mary Sullivan, RN, MSN, C-ANP, CDE received the Diabetes Educator of the Year Award at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Convention in Atlanta. This national award sponsored by LifeScan, Inc. honors a diabetes educator who has made a special contribution to the field through dedication, innovation and sensitivity in patient care. For more than 20 years, Mary has been employed by UCSF and has worked hard to improve patient care as well as staff training. As an inpatient diabetes clinical nurse specialist, she is known as a dedicated, caring healthcare professional and an innovative problem solver. Not only does she serve as an associate clinical professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, she is working on her doctoral degree in healthcare policy. Besides her work at UCSF, Mary has served as president of SFBAADE, the local chapter of the AADE, in 1987-88 and again in 2004-2005. In addition, she was SFBAADE’s Diabetes Educator of the Year in 2001 and 2007. Congratulations, Mary, on this well deserved national recognition! [ Award Story ]
Seeking Relatives for Type 1 Antibody Testing at Upcoming JDRF Walks
Does someone in your family have type 1 diabetes? If so, other family members may be at risk for developing diabetes. UCSF is offering a free simple blood test for relatives of people with type 1 diabetes. The test could detect an increased risk for type 1 diabetes up to ten years before symptoms appear. Testing is important because if someone is at increased risk, they may be eligible to join research studies that are exploring ways to prevent and delay type 1 diabetes. The free testing will be offered to relatives who are 1 to 45 years old (some restrictions apply) at the following JDRF Walks in October: Sacramento ; East Bay (Walnut Creek); San Francisco (Crissy Field); and North Bay (Santa Rosa). Look for the UCSF TrialNet sign in the Community Corner at each JDRF Walk. Also, if family members are unable to attend the Walks, there are several other easy ways to have your relatives screened. A screening kit may be mailed to you and you may visit a nearby lab to have the blood drawn, or you may be seen for a quick screening visit at UCSF. If you have any questions regarding TrialNet screening, please contact Kathleen Fraser . [ TrialNet Natural History Study ]
Back-To-School Message for Families of Children with Diabetes
If you are a parent/caregiver of a child with diabetes, the UCSF Pediatric Diabetes Department hopes your child’s return to school this month has gone smoothly. All families are urged to meet with the school nurse and all staff who supervise your child to educate them about your child’s diabetes care needs and establish protocol for delivery of medical orders. Pursuit of a 504 Plan is also highly recommended. Fortunately, a number of helpful documents are available to you in the new pediatric diabetes education section of the Diabetes Center website, Teaching Materials – Pediatric Diabetes Also, it is important to note that the California Department of Education’s Legal Advisory that directs all public schools to permit unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin to students when a nurse is not available is still in effect, even though the advisory is being challenged in the courts. If you have any questions about your child’s rights in school, these websites provide helpful information. [ DREDF ] [ ADA ] [ JDRF ]
UCSF Islet Transplantation Program is Recognized for its Success in Islet Isolation
When Greg Szot arrived at UCSF nearly a decade ago from the University of Chicago, he was on a mission to accelerate the field of pancreatic islet transplantation to assist those living with type 1 diabetes. Not only was he successful in helping to establish one of the first, fully certified, state-of-the-art human islet and cellular transplantation facilities to isolate islets for transplantation, Greg significantly improved the islet isolation procedure at a time when the process was forced to change. For these achievements, the American Diabetes Association recently recognized Greg with a Scientific Achievement Award. Thanks in part to Greg’s efforts, UCSF transplant surgeons are currently involved in three islet transplantation studies and are actively seeking patients. Through the international Clinical Islet Transplantation (CIT) Consortium, the transplant team is seeking two sets of patients: those who have had no transplantation of any kind (EXCEPT for a previous failed pancreas transplant); and a study focusing on type 1 diabetes patients who have received a kidney transplant and have stable renal function. In addition, the team is conducting a single-center JDRF trial using an immunosuppressive agent, Belatacept, that does not have the side effects of traditional anti-rejection drugs. If you or a loved one have type 1 diabetes and have experienced poor glucose control despite intensive insulin therapy, please contact the transplant office to learn more about these studies: 415-353-8893; email@example.com
NOTES AND NEWS
New Endowed Chair Awarded to Diabetes Center Physician Researcher
Thanks to the very generous support of longtime supporters, Bob and Michelle Friend, a new Endowed Chair in the Diabetes Center has been created. Selected as the recipient of the Robert B. Friend and Michelle M. Friend Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research is Mark Anderson, MD, PhD Dr. Anderson is one of only a handful of researchers around the world making significant progress in solving the problem of autoimmunity by exploring the molecular mechanisms that underlie autoimmune disorders. In less than ten years, Dr. Anderson has become a world leader in type 1 diabetes research, and a compassionate clinician who provides exemplary care for adult patients with diabetes. Not only will his research benefit millions with type 1 diabetes, it has the potential of helping millions more who are suffering from numerous other autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus. Congratulations, Dr. Anderson, for being awarded academic medicine’s highest honors and thank you, Bob and Michelle, for your substantial investment in a valued member of the Diabetes Center.
Presidential Award Presented to UCSF Stem Cell Researcher
President Barack Obama awarded stem cell faculty member Jeremy Reiter, MD, PhD a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Dr. Reiter was one of twelve awardees selected by the President’s White House Office of Science and Technology. Eighty-eight additional winners were selected from other federal agencies. Supported by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Dr. Reiter’s research focuses on studying the mechanisms of intercellular communication -- the ability of cells to send and receive information during development from a single cell into a complex mechanism -- and how mistakes in these signals contribute to disease. Congratulations, Dr. Reiter, on this prestigious national award. [ UCSF Today Story ] [White House Media Release ]
UCSF Ranks High in National Survey -- #4 in Endocrinology
Once again in the annual survey conducted by US News & World Report, UCSF has earned a top 10 national ranking for its hospital – and was ranked the best in the Bay Area. In addition, in the category “Diabetes and Endocrine Disorders,” the UCSF Diabetes Center ranked 4th nationwide. [ 2009-10 Survey Results ]
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, 16 to 45 years of age, within 3 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
The 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; firstname.lastname@example.org You may also visit our donation website and designate your gift to “The Diabetes Center”.
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