Diabetes linked to arsenic
Discovering the connection between environmental arsenic exposure and type II diabetes with QIAGEN Genomic Services.
Results that point toward treatment
From the analysis, Dr. Dodson and the team found that arsenic and high-fat diets induce similar transcriptomic changes. They also found that in mice in which Nrf2 had been inactivated, there were fewer arsenic-induced changes.
“The insights we gained through QIAGEN’s analysis point the way to a possible therapeutic target for disease intervention,” says Dr. Dodson. “We could look for a way to activate autophagy so that it works normally, or ways to inhibit Nrf2.”
The findings were presented by Dr. Dodson at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting in March this year and received a great deal of interest from the toxicology community. The quality of support offered by QIAGEN’s experts played a key role. “We wanted to represent the data properly, set proper cut-offs. We wanted to know that what we are doing is right,” says Dr. Dodson.
He believes the subject merits further research. “You see a lot of epidemiological studies in this area. It would be good to have more mechanistic studies of arsenic and diabetes to support why the enhanced risk exists,” he says. “My hope is to find one of the gene changes that fit our arsenic model so we can tailor therapy specifically to arsenic linked diseases as opposed to therapies that exist for that disease as a whole.”
The next stage would be to move from animal models to human models. “This is the very beginning of a giant project. We have so much data. We need to dig deeper to understand the mechanism,” says Dr. Zhang. “People don’t realize how widespread arsenic is. That’s a real danger. If we can figure out the pathways that lead to diabetes, we can develop treatment and even prevent it from causing the disease.”