A team lead by David Taylor-Fishwick at the Eastern Virginia Medical School Diabetes Center have been awarded an $1,076,250 grant. The research is to develop new ways of reversing the underlying causes of Type 1 diabetes and applies to both regenerative and autoimmune medicine. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune attack that destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin, the hormone that helps the body convert glucose from food into energy are not automatically regenerated or replaced by the body. When the beta cells are destroyed, no insulin is produced.
Current insulin replacement therapy, through shots and other methods do help the body to maintain normal glucose levels. However, they do not prevent the serious health problems such as blindness, nerve damage, heart disease and kidney failure
The challenge in reversing Type 1 diabetes is to regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells AND to stop the body's autoimmune attack. This is the focus of this new funded phase of research.
The team is seeking to find a way to neutralize the immune system's attack on the beta cells. These immune attacks occur at the onset of diabetes and may continue after Type 1 diabetes has appeared. The benefits of this research may also apply to other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
They are looking at Lisofylline, a drug used to block a protein, interkeukin-12 that triggers the autoimmune response. By targeting interleukin-12, the researchers hope to redirect the immune system, but not wipe it out.
They are also evaluating research on beta cell regeneration focused on proteins unique to the pancreas. Part of this new research will involve several experimental drugs developed by Jerry Nadler, MD. These drugs were designed to modify the autoimmune response and stabilize beta cells.
The researchers hope that one of these compounds, when used in conjunction with pancreatic proteins will create a new therapy that can be taken orally in a pill.
Source: Jina Gaines Eastern Virginia Medical School