A potential drug treatment based on blocking the MIF protein is already being explored. In a study presented last year at an ACS national meeting, the researchers reported they were able to prevent diabetes in a group of mice by using a synthetic compound called ISO-1 to block the MIF protein. If human studies prove the effectiveness of ISO-1, the compound or its derivatives could ultimately save lives, reduce health care costs and help prediabetic people, particularly children, avoid a lifetime of insulin injections, Al-Abed says. Prediabetic individuals are those who have blood markers ?either antibodies or genetic markers ?that are predictive of the disease but are still able to produce insulin.
Al-Abed and his associates hope that the experimental compound can one day be developed into a long-acting oral drug that could be taken by prediabetic people to achieve lasting protection, perhaps a lifetime. But such a drug would take years to develop and test, the researchers caution. Likewise, effective gene therapy against the disease may take many years to develop, they add.
Besides prevention, ISO-1 also is being tested in animals to determine whether it will help in the actual treatment of ongoing type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, the more common type. Results are not yet available from these tests, the researchers say.
Although nobody knows the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, and there is no cure, the disease can be controlled and its complications minimized by following a healthy diet, getting exercise and taking prescribed medications as directed, according to health experts.
The Institute for Medical Research at North Shore-LIJ provided funding for this study.
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