In April 2020, the Frank lab celebrated a new grant award: the Medical Research Foundation New Investigator Grant for James’ proposal to investigate GPR55 signaling in pancreatic beta-cells using optically-cleavable targeted ligands.

Cannabinoid receptors are expressed ubiquitously throughout the body, including pancreatic beta-cells, where they modulate the secretion of insulin and control blood glucose levels. Unfortunately, due to challenges associated with promiscuous pharmacology and non-selective antibodies, the precise location and function of the different cannabinoid receptors has been difficult to unravel. The Frank lab will use a combination of targeted pharmacology and immunofluorescence imaging to map the subcellular localization of the orphan cannabinoid receptor GPR55, and deduce its functional role in controlling insulin release from beta-cells. The technology developed in this proposal can be applied to other cannabinoid receptors as well, and will allow the team to illuminate the role of the endocannabinoid system in modulating blood glucose levels in both healthy and disease states.

The Medical Research Foundation supports promising biomedical exploration and the development of research careers in clinical investigation in Oregon through a program of competitively awarded research grants.

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