Cell death can trigger numerous diseases, including a rare and severe form of diabetes known as Wolfram syndrome. The cascade of cell death occurs when molecules spill from one part of a cell into another where they don’t belong.
Now, scientists working to find treatments for Wolfram syndrome have identified a gatekeeper that prevents those harmful molecules from spilling and triggering cell death. The researchers, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, also have found that the gatekeeper — an enzyme — may be a good treatment target not only for diabetes but for some heart problems, Parkinson’s disease and other disorders caused by the same type of cellular stress that can lead to cell death.
The findings are available June 23 in the journal Science Signaling.
“The type of cell stress involved in Wolfram syndrome, as well as more common forms of diabetes, can contribute to multiple diseases,” said principal investigator Fumihiko Urano, MD, PhD, the Samuel E. Schechter Professor of Medicine. “We believe the enzyme we identified may provide us with a target to protect many types of cells from a death cascade that leads to those different, seemingly unrelated disorders.”
Featured article originally published at Washington University Newsroom: Potential treatment target identified for rare form of diabetes