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Fatty Liver Disease | Pennington Biomedical Research Center Announces New Partnership To Target Drug Development Aimed At Diabetes

Baton Rouge, LA /PRNewswire/ – The Pennington Biomedical Research Center announced today a venture partnership with Vital Health Interventions, LLC, which includes a five year research grant totaling $2.65 million. The grant will support promising research, led by Pennington Biomedical’s Nikhil Dhurandhar, Ph.D., with a goal of developing a drug to prevent or reverse diabetes. Vital Health Interventions will have an option to license new technology or discoveries that emerge from the research.

The new research partnership is the result of Dr. Dhurandhar’s longstanding work in identifying and understanding Ad36, a human adenovirus, that induces obesity, but with a puzzling phenomenon. Dr. Dhurandhar explains, “Typically, obesity triggers conditions such as fatty liver disease as well as insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes. However, in the instances of obesity caused by this viral infection, glucose and insulin levels actually improve.” In recent work, Dr. Dhurandhar has isolated a protein of the virus that may be responsible for improving insulin levels and reducing fat accumulation in the liver.

“This specific project represents Pennington Biomedical’s world-renowned expertise in understanding the triggers of chronic diseases,” said Pennington Biomedical Research Center Executive Director Steven Heymsfield, M.D., at the reception announcing the partnership.

The Vital Health Interventions grant provides funding for new research aimed to develop a synthetic or chemical drug which could harness the property of the viral protein to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes or fatty liver disease. Dr. Greg Reinhart, vice president of Vital Health Interventions, stated, “We are very excited to be joining Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s efforts in this important and unique research endeavor. It is an exceptional opportunity to discover new treatment options for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.”

In cell studies performed previously by Dr. Dhurandhar, E4orfl, a protein derived from the Ad36 virus, was shown to improve glucose handling, similar to the action of insulin. The new grant will support additional research aimed at understanding the molecular mechanism involved in the action of E4orfl. Dr. Dhurandhar’s team will seek to develop a chemical that simulates the effect of E4orfl. While substantial work needs to be conducted in mechanistic and animal

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