Miller School Researcher’s Peptide May Help Control High Levels of Lipids in Type 1 Diabetes

A peptide developed by Nobel Laureate Andrew V. Schally, Ph.D., M.D.hc (Multi), D.Sc., professor of pathology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, may help control unhealthy levels of lipids in type 1 diabetes.

In a recent collaborative study, Schally, renowned for his work in cancer research and a member of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and vascular biology researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University found that the peptide MIA-602 blocked a key cellular receptor for growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), which is elevated in many patients with diabetes. The peptide, a chain of amino acids, also reduced two indicators of diabetes: protein in the urine, a sign of kidney damage, and the inability of blood vessels to relax, an indicator of blood vessel damage.

“These laboratory findings expand the therapeutic potential of antagonists of GHRH to diabetes, which affects a significant percentage of the world’s population,” said Schally, the Distinguished Leonard M. Miller Professor of Pathology and Professor of Hematology/Oncology, and International Medicine Institute Research Scientist at the Miller School of Medicine, and Distinguished Medical Research Scientist and Head of The Endocrine, Polypeptide and Cancer Institute at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Miami.

Schally was co-author of a new study, “Role of growth hormone-releasing hormone in dyslipidemia associated with experimental type 1 diabetes,” published recently in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors included Rudolf Lucas, Ph.D., and Maritza J. Romero, Ph.D., vascular biologists at the Medical College of Georgia.

Dyslipidemia is the abnormal level of lipids, or fat cells, found in the bloodstream. Patients with type 1 diabetes often have elevated levels of lipids and GHRH, which regulates growth hormone production. Schally co-discovered GHRH in the 1970s, and has continued to study that hormone, as well as antagonists like MIA-602 that block GHRH receptor action.

In this new study, the researchers discovered that MIA-602 exerted its actions by blocking peripheral actions of GHRH in the intestine of diabetic animals.

“This is a very promising finding, although further research is needed to see whether this approach can be applied in a clinical setting,” Schally said.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in people with type 1 diabetes, according to Romero.

“When you have patients with diabetes, you immediately think about the lipid levels in their blood and how these patients will do in terms of their vascular and cardiac function,” she said.

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