Anders Rosengren

Anders Rosengren

Hjelt grant holder 2013, Lund university

New anti-diabetic treatments through gene network analysis

New anti-diabetic treatments through gene network analysis

Using a simple blood sample, it is now possible to identify people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In a new project, Anders Rosengren, researcher at Lund University Diabetes Centre and physician at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, has identified a new risk protein for type 2 diabetes.

Anders Rosengren is one of four researchers who was awarded 50 000 euro from the Hjelt Foundation in 2012. Together with his PhD student Taman Mahdi, Anders Rosengren discovered that the protein SFRP4 constitutes a link between inflammation and decreased insulin release. The team was also able to establish that people who will develop type 2 diabetes in the future have an increased level of the specific protein in their blood, something that can be ascertained using a simple blood test. The results were published in Cell Metabolism in the autumn of 2012.

– Our aim is to move ahead using the findings relating to SFRP4 and see if it’s possible to modify the inflammatory process by blocking the protein, and later develop custom-made drugs, explains Anders Rosengren.

– In previous studies, it has been possible to see that when diabetes-related inflammation is modified, blood glucose regulation is improved. It’s not entirely clear how this works, but we believe that if we can target SFRP4 more specifically we may be able to eliminate certain side effects and at the same time achieve more targeted treatment, says Anders Rosengren.

Thanks to the grant from the Hjelt Foundation he will also be able to use a new method to search for drugs with a certain effect. Instead of studying one drug, or one substance, and it’s influence on a specific gene at a time, the team will be able to utilize the large amounts of data available in order to identify gene expressions and genetic factors.

– All drugs have side-effects from the target protein that you really want to influence, but by using this method you establish from the start how they affect different genes and you can use the entire spectrum of effects for a specific drug. This is a much more efficient way of identifying new candidate drugs, explains Anders Rosengren. One drug that has been found this way and which will be studied is a substance which occurs naturally in broccoli and cauliflower.

The project will run during 2013 and Anders Rosengren is happy about the support from the Hjelt Foundation that has made it possible to carry out the research.

– It’s always nice with grants from private funds where people are excited about the research. It means that we feel even more motivated to offer something in return, he concludes.

Sara Liedholm

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