Cancer Drug May Protect Against Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes due to the fact that its onset occurs predominantly in youth, occurs less frequently than type 2 diabetes; however, this has not stopped researchers from searching for methods of preventing or curing the disease. Type One Diabetes is a very serious disease, which occurs when the body attacks its own pancreas, leaving the beta cells (the part of the pancreas responsible for insulin regulation and production) destroyed. The ravages of the disease are widespread throughout the body and require lifelong care; because of the dangers of the disease, scientists have been committed to discovering ways in which to not only improve treatments (which include insulin medication through insulin syringes, insulin pen needles, or insulin pump supplies), but also to make the need for lifelong treatment unnecessary by halting the destruction of the insulin-regulating cells in the pancreas. A new study may provide a strong defense for those at risk for developing Type 1 Diabetes.
The study was headed up by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, working alongside scientists in other countries including the United States and Italy. The drug that the scientists tested is already in use in cancer treatment; in high doses, the drugs examined in the study help to treat lymphoma and are called lysine deacetylase inhibitors. Because of the particular function of the drug, researchers theorized that it may be able to help patients at risk for developing type one diabetes. While there are many ways to treat the condition, with insulin administration methods ranging from the use of insulin syringes to insulin pumps along with the more recently developed insulin pen needles, the effort to prevent the disease from occurring has been an important one. This study does not necessarily make new diagnoses of Type One diabetes a thing of the past, but it has shown promising results.
The scientists gave the medicine in very low dosages to mice that were genetically predisposed to and at risk for Type One diabetes. According to the study’s top author, Dan Ploug Christensen, “We find fewer immune cells in the pancreas, and more insulin is produced when we give the medicine in the drinking water to mice that would otherwise develop type 1 diabetes.” He added that the drug had the effect of resetting the immune system, thus stopping it from attacking the pancreas. He explained that “[The drug] works by blocking the molecules that send the harmful inflammation signals into the insulin-producing cells. In doing so, it prevents the cells from producing a number of factors which contribute to destroying the cells when exposed to inflammation.” While human trials are still pending, the researchers subjected insulin-producing tissue from organ donors to the inflammation signals and showed that cancer medicine also delays the destruction of human cells. While those already living with Type One diabetes will have to continue to administer insulin via insulin pen needles, insulin pumps, or insulin syringes, the research is a promising hint at a potential future where Type one diabetes may be a thing of the past.
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