Inside Look: New Protein May Trigger Type 1 Diabetes

By: Amy Sirizi

December 2013

With the holidays in full gear, Diabetes Institute members Dr. Bryon Petersen and his team are making miracles of their own this season.

Petersen’s research team is working to zero-in on a new functional protein, termed Islet Homeostasis Protein (IHoP) and its function(s) within the pancreas. The protein may function by regulating levels of glucagon (a hormone secreated by the pancreas) in maintaining normal blood glucose levels. The loss of IHoP expression may directly or indirectly influence decreased insulin production and secretion and thus, appears to play a critical role in the progression of (T1) Type 1 Diabetes.

iHop image

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are now more than 26 million children and adults diagnosed with diabetes. Only ~10% of this population, however, have Type 1 Diabetes – a disease commonly diagnosed in childhood with no clear trigger of onset.

Petersen says, “At this point in time we are preparing a manuscript that we are submitting to the journal Cell that describes a mechanism showing this protein as the trigger that causes the cascade of events that leads to T1D. With this new target, we are now working to design new therapeutic approaches that will someday lead to the clinics and treatment of patients.”

Petersen is very pleased with his team’s progress and is thankful for his right-hand man Dr. She-Hoon Oh for being the backbone in this research. Petersen’s team includes: Drs. SehHoon Oh, Liya Pi, Dr. Paulette Robinson, David Sullivan, Adam Frock, Alicia Brown, Marda Jorgenson, and 3 undergraduates.

In addition to investigating the causes behind Type 1 diabetes, Dr. Petersen enjoys fly-fishing and makes time for it at least once a month. He plays golf competitively with his group of friends and enjoys swimming 3-4 times a week with the Gator Swim Club Master’s group at the O-Dome pool. On top of swimming for exercise he is a Certified USA Swim Official and NCAA official, using his free time to officiate all of the University of Florida’s swim competitions.