MDI Biological Lab, UMaine research could lead to new therapies for diabetics

A new study conducted by researchers at MDI Biological Laboratory and the University of Maine could lead to new therapies for people with diabetes.

The research, led by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Sandra Rieger, has demonstrated that an enzyme she had previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy also plays a role in peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, according to an MDI Biological Laboratory news release.

The identification of a common molecular mechanism means more patients could potentially benefit from drugs that target this mechanism, the release states.

In previous research with zebrafish, Rieger identified two compounds that prevent and reverse peripheral neuropathy caused by exposure to Taxol, or paclitaxel, a common cancer chemotherapy agent.

The new study, published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, tested the effectiveness of one of these compounds in preventing glucose-induced peripheral neuropathy. The study found the compound to be effective in zebrafish and mice, MDI Biological Laboratory reported.

The mice research was conducted in collaboration with Kristy Townsend, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of Maine. The mice were fed a high fat/high sugar diet to induce diabetes.

Other UMaine researchers on the project were Amanda Dubois and Magdalena Blaszkiewicz with the School of Biology and Ecology and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering.

The full MDI Biological Laboratory release is online.