Work begins on genetic treatment for diabetes and obesity

July 18, 2017

Dr Rakesh Veedu is helping to develop a genetic treatment for Type-2 diabetes and obesity.

A Murdoch researcher is embarking on a revolutionary new synthetic RNA therapy to treat Type-2 Diabetes and obesity.

Dr Rakesh Veedu is an emerging international expert in developing novel nucleic acid drug therapies based at Murdoch University and a McCusker Fellow with the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science.

The research program is funded by Preveceutical Medical Inc (PMI) over the next four years.

Dr Veedu will work on the project with lead investigator Dr Harendra Parekh from the University of Queensland and Chief Research Officer at PMI, and Professor Grant Ramm at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

The project would provide a promising step towards addressing two of the major epidemics facing modern society.

“Type-2 Diabetes is predicted to affect 600 million people by 2030,” Dr Veedu said.

“Although a number of approved drugs for Type-2 Diabetes primarily achieve and maintain sugar levels, no drugs have been successful in halting the actual underlying molecular causes of Type-2 Diabetes, namely, insulin resistance.”

The team is taking a different approach to the complex issue, developing a smart synthetic RNA molecule that targets the gene segments believed to be involved in the pathology of Type-2 Diabetes.

“People suffering from Type-2 diabetes and obesity have high levels of a protein that impairs the balance of insulin and the maintenance of blood glucose levels. Inhibition of this protein will improve insulin resistance and enable glucose uptake by the cells to normalise the blood glucose levels,” Dr Veedu said.

“We are developing a synthetic gene targeting molecule (siRNA) that will bind to the RNA responsible for making this protein in the body. This will inhibit the expression of this protein and improve glucose uptake by the cells.”

The team’s strength centres on the different but complementary skills of the three researchers.

Dr Veedu will develop the siRNA segments, ensuring they are stable with high affinity to bind with the RNA making the troublesome protein.

These molecules will be delivered through a biodegradable delivery system developed by Dr Parekh, and Professor Ramm will provide the expertise in the cellular aspects of the research program.

The project is expected to get underway across all three sites in September.

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