Welcome to the Newsroom
The IDOM Newsroom is your one stop place for announcements, news and events for the:
- Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
- Diabetes Research Center
- Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center
Current News Features
November 22, 2013
Targets of Anticancer Drugs Have Broader Functions than What Their Name Suggests
Drugs that inhibit the activity of enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs) are being widely developed for treating cancer and other diseases, with two already on the market. Researchers have shown that a major HDAC still functions in mice even when its enzyme activity is abolished, suggesting that the beneficial effects of HDAC inhibitors may not actually be through inhibiting HDAC activity, and thus warranting the reassessment of the molecular targets of this class of drugs.
The study, appearing online in Molecular Cell this week, was conducted in the laboratory of Mitchell A. Lazar, M.D., PhD, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. The Lazar lab has been working on HDAC3 for over a decade, focusing on the pivotal role of this enzyme in hormone-mediated regulation of gene expression and metabolism. They previously showed that depletion of HDAC3 in mouse liver upregulates expression of many genes involved in lipid synthesis, which causes a remarkable fatty liver. In the current study, they put “enzyme-dead” HDAC3 proteins back in the mouse liver and found, surprisingly, that the fatty liver can be rescued to a large degree. HDAC inhibitors bind zinc metal in the catalytic site of HDAC proteins. However, in addition to HDACs, the human body has nearly 300 enzymes that also depend on zinc and therefore are potentially also inhibited by HDAC inhibitors, notes lead author Zheng Sun, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Lazar lab.
November 6, 2013
Testosterone treatments may increase risks for heart attacks, strokes and death in older men with low hormone levels and other health problems, a big Veterans Affairs study suggests. The Associated Press reports that an editorial in JAMA said it is uncertain if the study results apply to other groups of men, including younger men using the hormone for supposed anti-aging benefits. “There is only anecdotal evidence that testosterone is safe for these men,” said editorial author Anne Cappola, MD, ScM, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, a hormone expert at University of Pennsylvania and an associate JAMA editor.
“In light of the high volume of prescriptions and aggressive marketing by testosterone manufacturers, prescribers and patients should be wary” and more research is needed, she wrote. In speaking with Reuters, Cappola said, “"For the men who are healthier, my question would be, why are you taking this? And is there any risk that's acceptable for the benefits they are getting?" Among healthy men, "We just don't know what the benefits are." Coverage appeared in hundreds of outlets in the United States and around the world.
Penn Medicine News release
Associated Press article (picked up by Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, Miami Herald, NPR, Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Reuters article (picked up by Chicago Tribune, Yahoo! News)
Bloomberg News (picked up by San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe)
Wall Street Journal article
NBC News article
Fox News article
Los Angeles Times article
Medpage Today article
Cardiology Today article
CBS3 Philadelphia segment
Everyday Health article
November 6, 2013
Pancreas transplants for patients are not typically an option for many Type 1 diabetes patients, CNN.com reports, because they are difficult to perform, said Michael Rickels, MD, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. But an experimental procedure using the pancreas' islet cells is being tested at medical centers around the country. If it's approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it could make a difference for patients who are no longer able to successfully manage their diabetes. Rickels and his colleagues recently published a study in the journal Diabetes detailing a new protocol, which gives the extracted islets three days to "rest" before they're transferred to the living recipient. All of the patients in Rickels' study were able to come off insulin therapy for at least a year after a single transplant.
November 5, 2013
Mitchell Lazar, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, commented on an article in Scienceline about a study that showed how circadian rhythm genes regulate metabolism when we’re not eating by rhythmically controlling the supply of one specific molecule. He says this research further illuminates how the circadian clock and energy metabolism affect each other, which fits in with current research on the circadian rhythm. Knowing the specific components of this complicated relationship could help develop a drug to help people with chronically disrupted circadian rhythms, he added.
October 31, 2013
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) recently presented the Van Meter Award, to Anne R. Cappola, MD, ScM, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cappola is an internationally recognized clinical investigator whose research on the hormonal changes associated with aging is impacting how clinicians evaluate and treat thyroid dysfunction in older people.
The award was established in 1930 to recognize outstanding contributions by a young clinical scientist to research on the thyroid gland. Dr. Cappola accepted the honor during the award lecture on October 18 at the ATA’s 83rd Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
October 28, 2013
For nearly 300 years, investigators have known that body temperature follows a circadian, or 24-hour, rhythm, with a peak during the day and a low at night. The benefit of this control during evolution may have been to allow conservation of energy while sleeping because keeping body temperature above the surrounding temperature requires heat production from metabolic processes inside the body. But, it is also critical to be able to adapt to changes in ambient temperature, regardless of the time of day. However, the mechanism responsible for coordinating daily body temperature rhythm and adaptability to environmental challenges is unknown.
Now, the laboratory of Mitchell A. Lazar, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, explains in Nature how body temperature rhythms are synchronized while maintaining the ability to adapt to changes in environmental temperature no matter the time of day or night. "Food is plentiful in our present day society, and for most people there is unlikely to be an advantage of saving calories at night", says Lazar. "If this same mechanism exists in people, and we can target it safely, we could have a new way to combat obesity and its associated conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.” Lazar's team, including lead author Zachary Gerhart-Hines, PhD, found that the ability of mice to withstand a cold-temperature challenge was greater at 5:00 AM, when the mice are awake, compared to 5:00 PM when they are normally sleeping.
October 28, 2013
An article from the Philadelphia Inquirer reporters on the increasing opportunity for kidney transplants between spouses. Ali Naji, MD, Surgical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, says that "the love and affection between the spouses adds tremendous positive gratification." "A lot of spouses see it as not just doing something for the other person, but as doing something for the relationship," says Penn social worker Carolyn Cristofalo, MSW, LCSW. "People want to move on with their lives together." While blood relatives may often be the most compatible match, advances in immunosuppression drugs have dramatically increased success rates for transplants between unrelated persons. "It's harder to say no to a spouse who's trying to donate," says Donna Collins, RN, MSN, transplant coordinator. "If they get turned down, it can be devastating to them." The article profiles three pairs of spousal donors/recipients from Penn's transplant program.
October 7, 2013
A Florida mom received an unpleasant surprise in the mail recently. No, it wasn't an unexpected bill; it was a letter that said her 11-year-old daughter, Lily, was overweight. "I can understand the individual parent's angst," obesity expert Rexford Ahima, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, told Yahoo Shine. Ahima explains that measuring BMI is valuable for public health screenings but not as a specific diagnostic tool. "It's useful when you are comparing populations," but he says that it doesn't distinguish factors such as gender, age, and ethnicity that may affect the result. However, despite BMI's limitations, Ahima says it's the best, cheapest tool we have for identifying kids who might be at risk. "The intention to use it as a guide is OK, but in order to evaluate the information on an individual basis, then the child's physician should be involved."
New Islet Cells Boost Insulin Sensitivity
Islet cell transplantation improved insulin sensitivity in patients with long-standing type 1 diabetes, despite immunosuppressive drug regimens that have been associated with insulin resistance, researchers found.>> Read more