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Archive - Jun 6, 2017

Newly Discovered Possible Mechanism for Type 2 Diabetes Involves Prominent Role for SOX5 Gene

A newly discovered mechanism behind reduced insulin production in type 2 diabetes is now being presented. In an article published online on June 6, 2017 in Nature Communications, researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden describe how insulin-producing cells regress in their development, become immature, and do not work properly—a finding that opens the doors to new clinical treatments. “If you can affect things at the cellular level and restore the body’s own rapid regulation, you can more accurately adjust blood sugar compared to what is possible with insulin injections,” says Anders Rosengren, Associate Professor who is active at the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology as well as the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg. It has long been known that the insulin-producing cells fail in type 2 diabetes. The body does not get enough insulin and blood sugar rises. One theory argues that the insulin-producing cells become fewer in number, while another argues that their function is impaired. The new explanation, which combines the debated theories, states that the insulin-producing cells regress in their development and become immature. This reduces the number of functional cells. The open-access Nature Communications article is titled “Sox5 Regulates Beta-Cell Phenotype and Is Reduced in Type 2 Diabetes.” With the help of 124 tissue samples, of which 41 were from people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers were able to determine which genetic changes in the cells affected the course of the disease the most. Dr. Rosengren describes the analysis by comparing it to the world of air travel.

Pioneer & Luminary Awards Presented at Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 at Duke

Day 1 of the two-day Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 at Duke (May 24-25) ended with the presentation of Pioneer and Luminary awards to major contributors to the advance of precision medicine. The PMWC Luminary Award recognizes recent contributions of preeminent figures who have accelerated personalized medicine into the clinical marketplace. The PMWC Pioneer Award is given to rare individuals who presaged the advent of personalized medicine when less evolved technology and encouragement from peers existed, but still made major advances in the field. This year, the PMWC honored Francis Collins (Director, NIH), Elaine Mardis (Co-Director, Genomics Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital), and Keith Yamamoto (Vice Chancellor Research, UCSF) with the Luminary Award. For the Pioneer Award, Kathy Giusti (photo) (Founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and Co-Chair, HBS Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator), and Mark Levin (Co-Founder & Partner, Third Rock Ventures) were recognized. Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, is a highly revered physician-geneticist who, as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, oversaw the successful 15-year multibillion-dollar effort to sequence the human genome. Often considered the most significant scientific undertaking of our time, researchers around the globe are now able to use genomic tools to expand understanding of human biology, combat disease and improve health through precision medicine. In 2009, Dr.

ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Takes Center Stage on First Afternoon of Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 at Duke

A very moving and informative session on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), was held in the mid-afternoon of Day 1 (May 24) at the Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 at Duke. ME/CFS has been described by NIH Director Francis Collins as “the mysterious illness science has yet to unravel,” and, in this session, three compelling speakers sought to describe the disease, indicate where we are today in terms of research and knowledge of the disease, and suggest where we need to go in the future. The three speakers were session chair Zaher Nahle, PhD, MPA, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President for Research at the Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) (http://solvecfs.org/) research & advocacy organization; Anthony L. Komaroff (photo), MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Senior Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and John Nicols, MBA, CEO of Codexis (http://www.codexis.com/), a protein-engineering company. Mr. Nicols’ wife Marcy, who was in the audience, has had ME/CFS for 25 years. Dr. Komaroff has cared for and studied patients with ME/CFS for 35 years, and is a member of the SMCI Research Advisory Council. Dr. Nahle oversees the research and scientific portfolio at the SMCI that includes the peer-review grant program for external investigators, specialized biobanking, and patient registry platforms, as well as numerous medical education initiatives for patients and healthcare professionals. He also directs a specialized investment program with medical centers, government agencies, and industry partners to spark innovation and accelerate the discovery process in the ME/CFS disease space. Dr. Nahle began the session by expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the PMWC for hosting this session on a very neglected disease.