Academic journal article Human Ecology

Research on Proteins Holds Promise for Dementia and Diabetes Drugs

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Research on Proteins Holds Promise for Dementia and Diabetes Drugs

Article excerpt

As people age, their risk grows for a class of diseases known as protein conformational disorders, which occur when certain proteins become structurally abnormal and disrupt the function of body cells, tissues, and organs. Such conditions include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Type IT diabetes, and dementia.

Geneticist and biochemist Ling Qi, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, leads a lab researching X-box binding protein, which has a role in both Type II diabetes and neurodegeneration, which leads to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

"We have some data that may suggest this protein plays a critical role not only in the aging process, but also in the onset of diabetes," Qi explained. "We know that it regulates the expression of genes involved in many cell processes."

In particular, X-box binding protein regulates the functional capacity of endoplasmic reticulum, the part of cells where new proteins are created, folded, and then transported out for use by the cell. When the protein does not fold correctly, it creates stress in the cells.

Studies in Qi's lab also have shown that X-box binding protein plays a critical role in the creation of fat cells. These fat cells secrete hormones, many of which affect obesity and insulin sensitivity. In two studies, Qi demonstrated that altering fat-cell function changes the outcome of obesity.

"Fat tissue has become the center of the metabolic control," he said. "If you change the fat mass, you will likely see the changes in insulin sensitivity of the whole system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.