City of Hope researchers will use a $2.2 million grant to help expand their knowledge of how nonpermanent, but inheritable, changes within chromosomes can lead to inflammation and blood vessel damage in some people with type 1 diabetes.
The grant was awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.
Rama Natarajan, chair of City of Hope’s Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism within the Diabetes and Metabolism Institute, will explore the role that such changes, caused by epigenetics, play in the progression of diabetes complications such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart attacks and even death.
Recent evidence has suggested that epigenetic factors may regulate genes associated with diabetic complications, but without permanently altering the underlying DNA itself, as would happen in a genetic mutation, she said. Researchers “now have a window of opportunity for therapeutic intervention, because although some of these changes can be passed on to future generations, they are not written into our DNA,” Natarajan said.
Natarajan is the first to study epigenetic changes in diabetic vascular complications and metabolic memory, according to City of Hope.
“Our studies could lead to identifying new biomarkers for early detection and more effective therapies for the debilitating complications of type 1 diabetes,” Natarajan said.
—City News Service