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Antibodies reverse type 1 diabetes in new immunotherapy study
Date:7/5/2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have used injections of antibodies to rapidly reverse the onset of Type I diabetes in mice genetically bred to develop the disease. Moreover, just two injections maintained disease remission indefinitely without harming the immune system.

The findings, published online ahead of print (June 29, 2012) in the journal Diabetes, suggest for the first time that using a short course of immunotherapy may someday be of value for reversing the onset of Type I diabetes in recently diagnosed people. This form of diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune T cells target and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

The immune system consists of T cells that are required for maintaining immunity against different bacterial and viral pathogens. In people who develop Type 1 diabetes, "autoreactive" T cells that actively destroy beta cells are not kept in check as they are in healthy people.

Senior study author Roland Tisch, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC, said a need for effective immunotherapies also exists to treat Type 1 diabetes in people already living with the disease.

"Clinically, there have been some promising results using so-called depleting antibodies in recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetic patients, but the disease process is blocked for only a short period of time," Tisch said. "These antibodies don't discriminate between T cells normally required for maintaining immunity to disease-causing pathogens and the autoreactive T cells. Therefore T cells involved in maintaining normal immune function are also going to be depleted.

"You're getting some efficacy from immunotherapy but its only transient, it doesn't reverse the disease, and there are various complications associated with the use of these depleting antibodies."

Tisch said his UN
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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina Health Care
Source:Eurekalert  

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