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Chan Lab

Our research efforts mainly focus on understanding the neural circuits that are responsible for the detection of hypoglycemia and how these signals are relayed to peripheral tissues to stimulate an appropriate hormone response that counters the fall in blood glucose levels. In addition, we are interested in understanding how hypoglycemia and diabetes affect these central sensing mechanisms and in identifying suitable therapeutic targets for the treatment or prevention of hypoglycemia. Our laboratory uses a combination of cutting-edge neuroscience and classic physiological techniques to address questions regarding the interaction between the brain and peripheral glucose metabolism. A better understanding of how the body detects and activates the defense mechanisms that guard against hypoglycemia has revealed several potential therapeutic targets for preventing hypoglycemia outcomes in patients with Type 1 diabetes. In the near future, we will be initiating a series of clinical studies to evaluate the therapeutic potential of several FDA-approved drugs to improve awareness of hypoglycemia awareness, as well as the counterregulatory hormone responses to hypoglycemia in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Hypoglycemia or “low blood sugars” is the most serious acute complication in insulin-treated diabetes that prevents patients from attaining and maintaining proper control of their blood glucose levels over the long-term. Hypoglycemia triggers a cascade of events in the body that results in the release of hormones that help to restore blood glucose levels back to normal. The brain and especially the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), contains specialized cells (neurons) that play a crucial role in detecting falling blood glucose levels and coordinating the appropriate peripheral responses. However, exposure to hypoglycemia and poorly controlled diabetes can adversely influence these central sensing mechanisms and impair one’s ability to correct hypoglycemia.