Scripps Florida Scientists Awarded $3.5 Million to Expand Development of New Diabetes Therapies

JUPITER, FL, June 24, 2015 – Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded $3.5 million from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to accelerate development of a new class of anti-diabetic compounds.

Patrick R. Griffin, chair of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps Florida and a leader in the field, is the principal investigator of the new five-year grant.

“Effective management of diabetes and the complications associated with the disease remains a significant medical challenge,” Griffin said. “Due to significant safety concerns, a class of drugs that have proven effective at improving the body’s response to insulin (insulin sensitizers known as glitazones) has essentially been removed from the arsenal of therapeutics used to treat type 2 diabetes.”

Over the past decade, the Griffin lab along with the Kamenecka lab has focused on the molecular details of the mode of action of insulin sensitizers. Using this information, the scientists have made significant advances in developing drug candidates targeting a receptor known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors gamma (PPARG). These drug candidates inhibit the receptor, a unique mode of action compared to the glitazones.

Diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association 2012 report. Between 2010 and 2012, the incidence rate was about 1.7-1.9 million per year, and in 2013, the estimated direct medical costs were $176 billion.

This new award will fund deep dissection of the molecular mechanism of the new class of compounds developed at TSRI, and this information will help pave the path toward clinical development.

In addition, the Griffin lab, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Toledo, will look at the effects of these compounds on bone, an emerging safety issue with the glitazones.

The number of the new grant is 1R01DK105825.

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