With support from a federal research award, Dr. Sarah Gray, associate professor of UBC faculty of medicine’s Northern Medical Program, is exploring whether magnetic nanoparticles can be used as part of a targeted treatment approach for type 2 diabetes.Working closely with Dr. Urs Häfeli, professor in UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, Dr. Gray will test how magnetic nanoparticles—developed by Dr. Häfeli—can be used to deliver anti-diabetic drugs. Magnetic nanoparticles are a drug delivery tool that has been tested for other clinical interventions, such as cancer treatment and medical imaging.
“We are going to examine the use of this drug-delivery tool to target anti-diabetic drugs specifically to fat tissue,” said Dr. Gray. “Our goal is to concentrate the drugs in fat where they can act to improve metabolism, without inducing negative side effects on the body.”
According to Dr. Gray, fat, or adipose tissue, plays an important role in keeping metabolism running smoothly. In obesity, this tissue increases and also becomes dysfunctional, leading to complications, such as type 2 diabetes.
“While there have been drugs used to treat diabetes that restore adipose tissue function, they can have detrimental side effects on cardiovascular and bone health,” explained Dr. Gray. “We hope to provide evidence that will support safe and effective therapeutics for people living with type 2 diabetes.”
An estimated one third of Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes, with type 2 diabetes representing 90 per cent of cases.
The two-year $198,743 project is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund, through the three federal research funding agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).
The federal research award will support experiments performed in Dr. Gray’s and Dr. Häfeli’s labs, which will bring together their complementary expertise in diabetes and drug delivery, respectively. The project will also provide training opportunities for graduate students at UBC and UNBC.
A version of this story was originally published by UNBC.