Alexandria, VA -- Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered a new and innovative method to treat insulin-dependent diabetes. The treatment could potentially be used to help prevent or slow down the occurrence of diabetes in juveniles that have a strong tendency towards developing the disease before adulthood.
"People at highest risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes could receive the treatment before they develop diabetes, and this could prevent the progress of the disease in its early stages," said Dr. Sung Wan Kim, professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah.
In a study* published in the July 1999 issue of Pharmaceutical Research, an American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) publication, Dr. Kim and other scientists at the University of Utah demonstrated that a naturally-occurring antibody significantly reduced the development of diabetic symptoms in mice.
Insulin-dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly recognizes insulin-producing cells as being foreign. The immune system in turn tries to destroy the cells. When this occurs, the body stops producing insulin, and the diabetic patient must receive an injection of insulin to survive.
The researchers' findings prove that masking or hiding the foreign nature of the affected cells, in particular a protein named glutamic acid decarboxylase or GAD, from the immune system could prevent the immunological process that causes diabetes.
Dr. Kim and his research group produced a naturally-occurring blocking agent or protein that is an antibody to GAD. The researchers tested the blocking protein in a special strain of non-obese diabetic mice, which automatically develop diabetes. The mice received the blocking protein from a very early age before they developed diabetes.
The results showed a significant reduction in the number of treated mice
developing diabetes. Eighty percent of the treated m
Contact: Deborah Mierke
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists