Cancer and arthritis therapy may be promising treatment for diabetes

December 18, 2007

An antibody used to treat certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis appears to greatly delay type 1 diabetes in mice, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“Even better, the beneficial effects of the antibody continue to be observed long after the antibody is no longer administered,” the researchers said.

The antibody, rituximab (anti-CD20), depletes B cells. Experimental evidence in mutant mice indicates that B cells play a role in autoimmune diseases by interacting with T cells of the immune system. It is T cells that destroy insulin-producing cells directly in the pancreas, leading to type 1 diabetes.

“Our paper shows, for the first time, that after successful B cell depletion, regulatory cells emerge that can continue to suppress the inflammatory and autoimmune response even after the B cells return,” said Li Wen, senior research scientist in the division of endocrinology. “Even more strikingly, we found that these regulatory cells include both B and T cells.”

To determine if B cell depletion would work as a therapy for type 1 diabetes, Wen and her colleague at Yale, Mark Shlomchik, M.D., professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology, developed a mouse model. They engineered mice that were predisposed to diabetes and had the human version of CD20, the molecule rituximab targets, on the surface of their B cells.

The researchers tested a mouse version of the drug to deplete B cells in mice either before diabetes onset, or within days of diagnosis with diabetes. The drug treatment significantly delayed diabetes onset in pre-diabetic mice. This translated to a 10- to 15-week delay in developing diabetes compared to mice given a “sham” treatment. The equivalent period for humans would be approximately 10 to 15 years. Of the 14 mice that already had diabetes, five stopped needing insulin for two to five months while all the sham-treated mice remained diabetic.

“These studies suggest that B cells can have dual roles in diabetes and possibly other autoimmune diseases. The B cells might promote disease initially, but after being reconstituted following initial depletion with rituximab, they actually block further disease,” Shlomchik added. “This means that multiple rounds of medication to deplete the B cells might not be necessary or even advisable.”

Source: Yale University

Explore further: Smart insulin patch may aid future therapies

Related Stories

Smart insulin patch may aid future therapies

January 18, 2018
A smart insulin patch, once translated for humans, could eliminate the need for constant blood testing and help diabetics maintain a more consistent level of blood glucose.

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Gene therapy restores normal blood glucose levels in mice with type 1 diabetes

January 4, 2018
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in high blood levels of glucose. A study published January 4th in Cell Stem Cell ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Diabetes drug 'significantly reverses memory loss' in mice with Alzheimer's

January 1, 2018
A drug developed for diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer's after scientists found it "significantly reversed memory loss" in mice through a triple method of action.

Recommended for you

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.