Finnish scientists have reported a breakthrough in the attempts to understand the development of type 1 diabetes. They discovered disturbances in lipid and amino acid metabolism in children who later progressed to type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. The alterations preceded the autoimmune response by months to years. The study may prompt new approaches for prediction and prevention of type 1 diabetes in pre-autoimmune phase of the disease.
The results of the Finnish research team, which consists of scientists from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Universities of Turku, Oulu and Tampere, have been published on 15 December 2008, in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. The gradual loss of beta cells results in life-long dependence on exogenous insulin.
At the moment, the earliest identifiable process in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes has been the development of autoimmunity to pancreatic beta cells in the measurable form of islet autoantibodies. Although the autoimmunity usually precedes the clinical disease by months to years, its occurrence may already be too late for therapeutic approaches aimed at preventing progression to overt diabetes. The initiators of the autoimmune response have remained unknown and the mechanisms supporting progression towards beta cell failure have been poorly understood, making discovery of effective prevention a challenge. The results of the SYSDIPP project, which was supported by the Tekes FinnWell Program, bring significant new information for combating the disease.
The SYSDIPP project has made use of metabolomics. Metabolomics systematically studies the chemical fingerprints in cells, tissues and biofluids in a given physiological and environmental context. The metabolic phenotype is sensitive to subtle factors such as age, lifestyle
|Contact: Prof. Matej Oresic|
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland