The Norwegian Research Council announced on 7th of December the new list of awardees. We got new funding from FRIPRO for another independent Young Research Talent project: “Characterizing and modulating the insulin-producing beta-cell fate in monogenic diabetes by using novel genetic setups”
The risk of developing certain disorders increments with age, nearly all life limiting conditions such as cancer, dementia, heart disease or diabetes, being prevalent in the elderly segment of population. This, correlated with the important increase in the lifespan observed in the developed world, has as repercussion an increased number of aged persons living longer, however with multiple age-associated chronic disorders. If this trend is maintained, the economical and social costs of an aging population will be overwhelming. Therefore an approach that will prolong the healthspan (life without chronic illness) by delaying the disease onset is mandatory.
Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels resulted from the impaired ability of the body to produce or respond to the hormone insulin. The two common forms of diabetes are exceedingly difficult to study due to their complex aetiology. Consequently, in both cases the major difficulty is distinguishing from the plethora of modulations the ones directly responsible for disease initiation.
Our project proposes a novel strategy based on the outstanding features presented by a group of monogenic diabetes disorders, termed MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young). Most MODY mutation carriers develop diabetes before the age of 30, however the disease onset can also occur much later in life. One such example is MODY3, the most prevalent MODY type in the population with European ancestry (36-60%), where only 63% of mutation carriers are ill by the age of 25, but 98.7% become diabetics by the age of 75. Using advanced molecular and cellular biology tools, we plan to follow the fate of insulin producing cells in aging mutation carrier models, with the purpose of identifying these disease-promoting factors and devise a strategy to delay the age-onset of the diabetes.