A team from
MSU’s Department of Chemistry
announced a discovery with the potential to make a big difference for patience with diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cystic fibrosis.
Associate Professor of Chemistry Dana Spence and his team have determined that a receptor found on blood platelets may be more important than formerly believed by researchers. After isolating and testing the receptor known as P2X1, the team identified the receptor as a potential new drug target.
“I began to feel that this receptor was important by making a simple observation,” says Spence. “Specifically, people with diabetes have red cells who don’t release appropriate amounts of ATP in the circulation. I felt there had to be a link between this reduced ATP release and the fact that people with diabetes have abnormally active, or sticky, platelets.”
In the past, researchers have focused on the P2Y receptor because the P2X1 receptor is difficult to study as it becomes desensitized once blood is drawn from the body. Spence and his team found a way to activate the P2X1 receptor after a blood draw.
Spence clarifies that while the discovery has great potential to reduce events leading to vessel blockage in the bloodstream, there is still much work to be done.
“At this point, we are analogous to a kid who just found his big brother's bike in the garage but doesn't know how to ride it yet,” says Spence. “We have some neat ideas and will hopefully be sharing the results from these studies very soon.”