Researchers Study Whether Chemicals in the Environment Increase the Risk of Diabetes

Diabetes ConceptResearchers at the University of Buffalo will be studying how chemicals in the environment affect the risk of diabetes and metabolic conditions.  According to an article posted on the university’s website, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded a two-year $436,751 grant to Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD and Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan, PhD to study this issue.  

Dr. Dubocovich is a SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of pharmacology and toxicology. Dr. Rajnarayanan is assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “Our results may help clarify some of the causes behind the epidemic we are experiencing in Type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome,” said Dubocovich. She said that the study is a “hunt for environmental chemicals that affect melatonin’s actions”. Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating sleep and circadian rhythm.

Dubocovich said that “The goal is to identify environmental chemicals that alter the ability of the nocturnally-produced melatonin to transmit signals of darkness to target tissues, such as pancreatic beta cells,” The findings may affect how these chemicals are regulated. “Many of these chemicals are flying under the toxicological radar and have no established guidelines for exposure.” said Rajnarayanan. He explained that the study will incorporate data on millions of chemicals to determine which ones disrupt the circadian rhythm and potentially cause diabetes.

“We are merging our expertise to establish a comprehensive pharmacoinformatics pipeline-which we call Chem2Risk-to leverage big data on toxic chemical exposure,” Rajnarayanan said.

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