That started in 2008 with a $1m investment in an SIK2
camera from Silicon Imaging.
Robert Screaton, senior scientist at the CHEO Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, started with a gene "knockout" strategy to remove a protein called SIK2 from all beta cells.
They found that mice without SIK2 secrete less insulin during feeding because they fail to turn off a switch protein called p35, which prevents insulin secretion when blood sugar levels are low.
"We were very excited when we found obese animals had three times the amount of SIK2 in their beta cells, meaning they were working harder to compensate for high blood sugar by turning up SIK2," Dr.
"Diabetic mice have lost this ability to turn up SIK2 and compensation is lost.
For the first time, Salt Inducible Kinase 2 (SIK2) has been found to play a critical role in cell division and to regulate the response of some ovarian cancers to chemotherapy.
Researchers found that depleting SIK2 from ovarian cancers sensitized the cancer cells to paclitaxel, a commonly prescribed chemotherapeutic agent that inhibits cell division, making the drug more effective in stopping the cancer's growth.
Levels of the SIK2 protein are increased in approximately 30 percent of ovarian cancers and are associated with poorer survival in women with the disease.
"In our search for proteins that are responsible for that sensitivity, we found that SIK2 was required for cell division and that its inhibition offers a novel approach to improving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer that deserves further study," he added.