USD professor receives grant for diabetes study An assistant professor at The University of South Dakota was awarded a grant of $100,000 from the American Diabetes Association to study Type II diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. The grant-funded research of Dr. Da-Qing Yang may lead to new treatments for Type II diabetes, an all-to familiar disease in South Dakota.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects approximately 18.2 million Americans, only two thirds of which are currently diagnosed and under treatment. Diabetes is the nation's fifth largest cause of death and the leading cause of blindness, lower limb amputations, and kidney transplants. It is responsible for close to $135 billion in annual health care costs.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of diabetes (diagnosed) in South Dakota increased from less than 4 percent of the total population in 1994 to nearly 6 percent in 2002, a 50 percent increase. The situation is more severe for the Native American population in South Dakota.
Diabetes is usually two to three times more common in American Indians than the general population and their mortality rate is 4.5 times greater than Caucasian populations.
Although the cause of Type II diabetes is still unclear, it is known that insulin resistance is closely related to the development of this disease. Insulin resistance occurs when the body fails to use its own insulin which results in elevated levels of glucose in the body. Insulin resistance is caused by defective glucose transport mediated by a protein called glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4).
In response to insulin, GLUT4 will transfer from the cytoplasm of a cell to the cell membrane and mediate transport of glucose.
Dr. Yang will use the grant to study the function of GLUT4. "We use cellular models to study the relationship between GLUT4 and its potential upstream kinase, ATM. One cellular model we are using right now is differentiated L6 muscle cell line," Yang said. "It's a model cell line that has detectable glucose uptake upon insulin treatment. We also use a lot of molecular and cellular techniques such as immunofluorescence staining and molecular cloning to study the functional link between these two proteins."
Yang, who is in the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences at USD, is the only basic researcher in South Dakota who is a member in the basic research section of the American Diabetes Association.
He will continue to work on this project during the next couple of years using the support from this grant.
"We hope to find the protein kinase that is responsible for the defective GLUT4 translocation in Type II diabetes patients," Yang said.