First Map of Proinsulin’s “Social Network” Reveals New Drug Target for Type 2 Diabetes; PRDX4 Found to Play Central Role in Proper Folding of Proinsulin; May Be Target of Treatment to Preserve or Even Restore Pancreas Islet Cells in Type 2 Diabetes

Scientists at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in California have mapped, for the first time, the vast network of proteins that interact with proinsulin, the protein the body normally processes into insulin. The study, published in the May 2020 issue of Diabetes (, also revealed one protein—called peroxiredoxin 4 (PRDX4)—that may be essential for proinsulin folding and insulin production. The research suggests that boosting PRDX4 levels may be a novel therapeutic approach to improving the health of people with diabetes. The article is titled “Unbiased Profiling of the Human Proinsulin Biosynthetic Interaction Network Reveals a Role For Peroxiredoxin 4 in Proinsulin Folding.” “Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, and, over time, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas ‘burn out’ and die. Our recent work suggests that proinsulin misfolding plays a role in beta cell failure and the development of type 2 diabetes,” says Pamela Itkin-Ansari (photo) (, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Development, Aging and Regeneration Program ( at Sanford Burnham Prebys, and senior and co-corresponding author of the study. “Our hope is that by fixing proinsulin misfolding, potentially by targeting PRDX4, we may be able to protect or even restore the health of beta cells and achieve a functional cure.”
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