• Vitamin D can help treat damaged beta cells in pancreas that produce, store and release the hormone insulin, paving they way for a new approach to treat diabetes.
  • When beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can not make insulin to control blood sugar and levels of glucose can rise to dangerous levels.
  • Vitamin D in cells and mouse models proved beneficial in treating damaged beta cells.
  • It also provided new insights about gene regulation that could be applied to developing treatments for other diseases, including cancer.
  • Using beta cells created from embryonic stem cells, researchers were able to identify a compound, iBRD9, that appeared to enhance the activation of the vitamin D receptor when it was combined with vitamin D to improve the survival of beta cells.
  • Epidemiological studies in patients have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood.
  • It’s been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone..

Tell us about the New treatments

  • The underlying process has to do with transcription – the way that genes are translated into proteins.
  • Combining the new compound with vitamin D allowed certain protective genes to be expressed at much higher levels than they are in diseased cells.
  • Activating the vitamin D receptor can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes to help cells survive under stressed conditions,”
  • By using a screening system that we developed in the lab, we’ve been able to identify an important piece of that puzzle that allows for super-activation of the Vitamin D pathway
  • The discovery’s implications can have far-reaching implications
  • It identifies a basic mechanism that can be translated into drugging many different targets in the clinic.