By Matthew Vaccaro | June 24, 2011 1:34 pm

College of Medicine Professor Henry Daniell is one of several UCF professors whose research targets diabetes. And this month, a special 30-minute program on UCFTV explores the advances being made in Central Florida as doctors and scientists work to crack the mystery of what triggers diabetes.

Researchers are hot on the trail of the “smoking gene” that causes diabetes. Although no specific gene has been discovered yet, the television broadcast showcases local research at UCF, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Florida Hospital that is yielding some surprising clues.

For example, while high levels of sugar in the blood have always been indicative of diabetes, the inability of diabetics to burn fat may have some severe consequences as well. Fat creates hormones, some of which have been linked to heart disease and cancer.

The TV show examines the work of Dr. Daniell, who has for the past two decades has studied how transgenic plants can produce oral vaccines and immune-tolerant therapies. His work has examined whether genetically engineered insulin from plants can help millions of Americans who suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes.

The diabetes special will air on UCFTV throughout June, including Mondays through Fridays at 8 a.m. UCFTV is seen on Bright House Networks channel 1, Central Florida on Demand, Comcast digital cable channel 205 and over the air on digital channel 68.2.

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