Metabolic disorders, which lead to the complication of disease states such as diabetes and stroke, are a significant health burden to the world. By understanding the underlying mechanisms behind this group of disorders, we seek to develop novel methods to address these health challenges. In contrast to clinical strategies which aim for macroscopic outcomes with medication-based treatments, our research focuses on microscopic solutions through molecular engineering and gene therapy. Rather than addressing the effects of metabolic disorders on organ systems as a whole, we target cells and their specific structures directly.
One of our approaches toward metabolism regulation is targeting mechanisms at the cellular level. Due to mitochondria’s role in providing energy on the cellular level, defects in which mitochondria functions throughout the body play a significant role in various metabolic disorders. We are investigating a class of molecules called Sirtuin activators that modulate mitochondrial energy metabolism. Through our research on Sirtuin activators, we hope to develop safe and effective methods to help maintain metabolic functions and reverse cellular damage caused by abnormal and altered metabolic conditions.
Findings on the modulation of metabolic pathways are also connected to our research on the topic of aging. Through the observation of conditions that lead to altered cellular metabolism, we identify compounds and their cellular targets to help develop new solutions to restore metabolic homeostasis. This has led to discoveries on aging-associated metabolic disorders including Type II Diabetes. We aim to address this well-studied disease state by focusing on the ways in which insulin resistance develops on a cellular level.
NAD+ is a key factor within cellular respiration and the electron transport chain. Our data shows that the attenuation of NAD+ bioavailability is associated with metabolic disorders in both mouse and human models. Conversely, NAD+ bioavailability is increased when cells increase their demand for energy, resulting in the activation of mitochondrial and lipid metabolism. We focus our research on NAD+ bioavailability variations and their effects on metabolic changes such as insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function. This includes studies on the supplementation of NAD+ through different precursors.
Pterostilbene is a molecule refined from resveratrol, a natural chemical found in various types of grapes, berries, and nuts. It is a polyphenol which boasts higher bioavailability than its natural formulation and has been shown to exhibit antioxidant properties. We are investigating the mechanism of action of pterostilbene and researching potential health benefits that may arise from its use.