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Taking the needle's sting out of diabetes
Date:8/10/2009

Found in 30% of all human cancer tumors, the Ras protein literally "drives cells crazy," says Prof. Yoel Kloog, the dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University. Prof. Kloog was the first in the world to develop an effective anti-Ras drug against pancreatic cancer, currently in clinical trials. Now, new research published in the June issue of the European Journal of Pharmacology shows that the drug might be able to slow the progression of diabetes as well.

Prof. Kloog's student Adi Mor of TAU's Department of Neuro-biochemistry and Sackler School of Medicine has modified Prof. Kloog's anti-Ras FTS compound to develop what could be the first tablet-based treatment for children and adults with Type 1 diabetes. Early results show that FTS is effective in restoring insulin production in animal models ― which could spell an end to the daily needle injections endured by diabetics.

"Our anti-Ras compound has shown very positive results in inhibiting diabetes," says Mor. And given the drug's history FTS has already passed toxicity studies for other diseases and disorders it has the potential to fast-track through FDA regulatory hurdles, skipping straight to Phase II clinical trials. A new drug for diabetes could be ready in as little as five years' time.

Helping the immune system do its job

Previous studies by Prof. Kloog's lab found that the FTS compound is effective against autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, "but the mechanism of its effects on immune cells was not well understood," says Mor. "I wanted to see if there was a connection between Ras and the regulation of the immune system, and if so if FTS could help regulate it to prevent or slow diabetes."

Through treating cells with the Tel Aviv University FTS compound, Mor was able to find and isolate an important immune system regulator protein called Foxp3. This protein keeps T cells in the immune system in check.
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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