Targeting a New Hormone Helps to Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

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Dr. Kacey Prentice in the lab

JDRF is funding work on multiple ways to delay or prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes (T1D), and JDRF-funded researchers may have found a clue.

A publication with lead author Kacey Prentice, Ph.D., and her colleagues in the Hotamisligil Lab at the Sabri Ülker Center of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has found that targeting a new hormone complex can enhance beta cell function and prevent T1D. The FABP4 and nucleoside kinase complex, labeled Fabkin, could be a promising therapeutic target, according to the researchers, as it is found at high levels in people with T1D, and targeting it preserves beta cell function and survival.

“JDRF was instrumental in supporting this project. Financially in terms of project grants and my own Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as building a community of researchers with a common goal,” says Dr. Prentice. “JDRF facilitated our connection with clinicians and biobanks, allowing us to gain access to patient samples to provide human relevance for our findings. This diverse community of researchers provides great perspective into all aspects of this disease and gives a greater meaning to our own work—not only to gain understanding of the biological processes, but also actively think about how we can make a real difference in the lives of patients.”

“We a very grateful to JDRF, whose goal is not just financial support, but to really home in on identifying an important problem, getting researchers and collaborators to focus on it, and asking ‘How is the project going? Is there anything we can do to tackle these problems?’,” says Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, M.D., Ph.D., JS Simmons Professor and the director of the Sabri Ülker Center for Metabolic Research at Harvard, a senior author of the publication, and a mentor to Dr. Prentice. “In fact, it is through JDRF that we were introduced to Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler and colleagues—our valuable collaborators in this study to explore the human relevance of our findings. This should be a model for supporting science to tackle challenging problems.”

Dr. Prentice shares how she and her colleagues hope to make prevention of T1D a possibility sooner rather than later:

Funding prevention research is critical in our mission to find cures for T1D. Please consider donating today, and JDRF will help turn type 1 into type none, with your support.

In addition to Drs. Prentice and Hotamisligil, JDRF has also given support, either now or in the past, for Peter Achenbach, M.D., Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, M.D., and Feyza Engin, Ph.D.

Citation: Prentice, K.J., Saksi, J., Robertson, L.T. et al. A hormone complex of FABP4 and nucleoside kinases regulates islet function. Nature (2021).