A Not-so-Grave Assessment

Researchers identify chemical compound culprit in Graves' disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) have identified a chemical compound in Graves' disease (overactive thyroid) that may prevent thyroid cells to reverting to their normal function.

The thyroid gland never stops in Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to act against the body's own cells and organs. The gland's overdrive, as it were, results in problems in energy regulation, hormone control and cell maintenance throughout the body.

About 1 percent of Americans have Graves' disease.

The research pinpoints the effect of a so-called receptor antagonist (a chemical compound that binds to receptors and acts as an antagonist for certain antibodies) on human thyroid cells.

Several therapies for Graves' disease exist, including surgery, radioactive iodine, and antithyroid drugs, but each of those treatments results in relapse rates of 5 percent, 21 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

The goal of this study was to develop an "easily produced, orally administered, safe and effective drug" chiefly free of side effects to be used in place of these invasive treatments, said Marvin Gershengorn, M.D., chief of the Laboratory of Endocrinology and Receptor Biology within NIDDK's intramural research program and senior author.

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Review Date: 
January 4, 2011
Last Updated:
January 4, 2011