A Diabetes Cure around the Corner?

Type 1 diabetes cured in research could lead to cure for humans

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

(RxWiki News) Finding a cure for a disease like diabetes is like the Holy Grail to researchers. But cures are not found overnight, they are discovered after decades of study.

Recently, researchers made a huge step forward in the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes, a disease that mainly affects children and young people. A new, experimental treatment cured type 1 diabetes in 78 percent of diabetic mice in a recent study. Even though much more research is needed before the treatment can be used on humans, this finding could lead to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

"Scientists are closer to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes."

According to Vijay Yechoor, M.D., from Baylor College of Medicine, one injection of this gene therapy can cure mice of diabetes and return their insulin to normal levels. People with type 1 diabetes no longer make insulin, which is needed to control blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease - meaning it happens when a person's immune system mistakes the body's homegrown cells for foreign invaders. When someone has type 1 diabetes, their T cells (the body's defense against infection) attack the cells that control insulin.

The new treatment works by stopping this autoimmune response.

First, researchers made a mice's pancreas create more islets, or beta cells - cells that make insulin. Then, by adding a gene called PD-L1, they were able to keep T cells from attacking only the islets that the researchers wanted to protect.

By protecting only certain new cells, the T cells were able to continue working like they should in the rest of the body. This keeps the body from easily becoming infected.

Yechoor concludes that this new treatment could eventually be a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 6, 2011
Last Updated:
June 7, 2011