Thursday, May 12, 2005

An Amazing Study Just Off the Wire

This is stunning to me and I posted it all in addition to doing a link. I would love to hear from other D-bloggers what you think the implications are. Like a lot of studies, it is not particularly useful for people who already HAVE Type 1 Diabetes, but if we can prevent anyone else from getting this DAMNED, DAMNABLE DISEASE, I would be very happy.
Study at UCDHSC Identifies Crucial Islet Target in Type 1 Diabetes; Finding Is Likely to Transform the Study of Diabetes Autoimmunity
Wed May 11 10:00:01 2005 Pacific Time

DENVER, May 11 (AScribe Newswire) -- Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center have identified a crucial target of islet cells in the pancreas that white blood cells attack, leading to type 1 diabetes.

The study, led by Dr. George Eisenbarth, executive director of the Barbara Davis Center, will be published in the May 12 edition of Nature. The UCDHSC study is likely to transform the study of diabetes autoimmunity and also has implications for other autoimmune diseases and illnesses, suggesting that autoimmune diseases may not be as complex as once thought.

Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States and currently affects 18.2 million people, or 6.3 percent of the population. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the specific destruction of cells within the pancreas that produce insulin. Researchers have long thought that multiple actual and potential targets exist and the UCDHSC study indicates that for the intensively studied model of childhood diabetes, the target might be a small piece of insulin itself, a peptide termed B:9-23.

"One hypothesis to account for diabetes was the possibility of crucial targets of islet cells in the pancreas and, if there was a single or primary target, altering the attack on that target could and should prevent diabetes," Eisenbarth said. "This study demonstrates there is a crucial target and with the existence of primary targets, genetic techniques to change a single target can prevent a complex autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes."

This information, combined with a related study in Nature this month from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, points to the central role of insulin as a target and indicates the importance of the insulin gene for genetic susceptibility to diabetes. The study there identified a piece of insulin as a major target of white blood cells in cloned T-cells of pancreatic lymph nodes of patients with type 1 diabetes.