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The Sanford Project identifies potential biomarker, therapeutic target for type 1 diabetes

Study by Dr. Alexei Savinov published in Diabetes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A team from The Sanford Project, a translational research center focused on diabetes, has identified a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for type 1 diabetes.

The group of researchers led by Alexei Y Savinov, M.D., Ph.D., recently published an article titled  “Nardilysin-dependent proteolysis of cell-associated VTCN1 (B7-H4) marks type 1 diabetes development” in Diabetes.  The study highlights the potential of a specific protein, soluble V-set domain-containing T cell activation inhibitor-1 (sVTCN1), as a new type 1 diabetes biomarker and the enzyme nardilysin (NRD1) as a possible target for treatment of the disease.

Utilizing a mouse model and samples from human type 1 diabetes patients, Savinov and his team discovered that a loss of V-set domain-containing T cell activation inhibitor-1 (VTCN1) and an increase in sVTCN1 levels occurred in parallel to the natural development of type 1 diabetes. Furthermore, the loss of VTCN1 was mediated by the enzymatic action of  NRD1, demonstrating its possible utility as a therapeutic target.

“Recent studies have indicated that VTCN1 is a molecule capable of inhibiting T-cell activation, which is thought to underlie the development of type 1 diabetes,” said Savinov. “We found that degradation of VTCN1 and consequent elevation of sVTCN1 levels seemed to have correlated to early appearance and the aggressive pace of the disease.”

Savinov is an associate scientist with The Sanford Project, which is part of the Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford Research. His lab studies how autoimmune T cells are activated during type 1 diabetes development, home to the target organ and destroy their beta cell targets.

Diabetes publishes original research about the physiology and pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus with an emphasis on investigative reports focusing on the pathogenesis of diabetes and its complications, normal and pathologic pancreatic islet function and intermediary metabolism, pharmacological mechanisms of drug and hormone action and biochemical and molecular aspects of normal and abnormal biological processes.

About Sanford Research 
Sanford Research is a non-profit research organization and is part of Sanford Health, an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. Sanford represents the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities, nine states and two countries. In 2007, a transformational gift of $400 million by Denny Sanford provided for an expansion of children’s and research initiatives, one of which was to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, and has given Sanford Research significant momentum in its goal of becoming one of the premiere research institutions in the United States and the world. Most recently, subsequent gifts of more than $200 million by Mr. Sanford have paved the way to establish Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research and Sanford Imagenetics.
With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Cancer, Cancer Biology, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention and Sanford Sports Science Institute.
Tim Gerszewski
Sanford Media Strategist – Sioux Falls Region
(605) 366-2432 /