Harnessing the human body's own energy and repair processes is the focus of Patricia Brubaker's research at the University of Toronto.
For the past 15 years, Brubaker has been exploring the roles that intestinal peptide hormones play in integrating the regulatory processes of the gut-otherwise known as the intestine. She has concentrated on two particular peptides, which are critical to the regulation of pancreatic cell physiology, and to the maintenance of the structure and function of the intestine. Those two peptides, known as GLP-1 and GLP-2, also play important roles in Diabetes Mellitus and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Brubacker is investigating the properties of GLP-1 as a natural anti-diabetic agent. Clinical trials of GLP-1 have demonstrated that administration of GLP-1 to patients with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can improve blood glucose control.
Brubaker's research has also turned up evidence that the GLP-2 peptide has potential as a wound-healing agent for chronic gut disease, including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both of those conditions involve inflammation of the bowel, sometimes requiring surgical intervention and loss of a significant percentage of the small bowel. That loss, in turn, can lead to malnutrition or sepsis.
Clinical trials have already tested the performance of GLP-2. Trials suggest that administering the peptide to patients with Short Bowel Syndrome helps them to absorb nutrients. Awarding this research chair to Brubaker will allow her to push forward with her groundbreaking research to explore the properties of GLP-1 and GLP-2 and their potential in developing new approaches to prevent and treat diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Having too little GLP-1 induces a mild form of diabetes, while GLP-2 plays a major role in intestinal growth. Understanding the factors that regulate the secretion of these two peptides is critical to controlling and utilizing their function to prevent and treat a range of illnesses. These peptides will continue to be a major focus of researchers trying to develop new drugs. Brubaker is already at the forefront of that research. This research chair will only strengthen her position.