PNDRI Principal Investigator Awarded $1.4M NIDDK Grant

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Dr. Joseph Bryan challenges dominant model of insulin release mechanisms


SEATTLE – February 26, 2014 – Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute (PNDRI) announced today that Principal Investigator, Joseph Bryan, Ph.D., received a grant from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to continue his exploration into the mechanisms of insulin release. The grant will be over a four year period beginning immediately and is estimated to total $1.4 million.

Dr. Bryan studies the mechanism of ATP sensitive potassium channels involved in the release of insulin from pancreatic beta cells. In the presence of high concentration of glucose, molecules called ATP and ADP regulate the activity of potassium channels and, subsequently, the release of insulin. Malfunctions in this mechanism can cause the channels to respond improperly. If the channels are overactive they will cause an insufficient release of insulin which leads to diabetes. If the channels are difficult to open, too much insulin is released. These genetically produced malfunctions are the cause of either neonatal diabetes or congenital hyperinsulinism, respectively. These conditions are damaging in newborns and can require lifelong treatment.

The prevailing model for the mechanics of how ATP and ADP regulate the potassium channels is used to interpret how mutations alter channel activity. Dr. Bryan’s objective is to further develop our understanding of these mechanisms so that the model can more adequately explain mutations and channel function.

By uncovering the detailed mechanism of the regulation of these potassium channels, Dr. Bryan’s work has the potential to provide therapeutic avenues for individuals suffering from neonatal diabetes, congenital hyperinsulinism, or even type 2 diabetes.

Click here to read Dr. Bryan's description of his project