Diabetes mellitus is a major health concern for millions of people globally, with prevalence only expected to increase. All forms of diabetes, including types 1 and 2 and gestational diabetes, produce a decrease in pancreatic beta cell mass, the cells responsible for insulin production and secretion. Together with JDRF, a research organization committed to the cure of type 1 diabetes, GNF scientists are taking approaches to increase functional pancreatic beta cell mass therapeutically.
Our scientists are developing small molecules that are able to induce proliferation of beta cells, both in cell culture and in models of diabetes. We have shown that the most promising compounds act by inhibiting the kinase, Dyrk1a. We are working on methods for selective delivery of Dyrk1a inhibitors or other therapeutics to pancreatic beta cells through use of molecular targeting. These delivery technologies may be able to provide a therapy to increase beta cell mass in a safe manner.