Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have identified a compound that prevents overproduction of thyroid hormone, a finding that brings scientists one step closer to improving treatment for Graves' disease.
In Graves' disease, the thyroid gland never stops. Thyroid-stimulating antibodies bind to receptors, activating them to keep the thyroid hormone coming and coming like a broken traffic light stuck on green and causing the body problems in regulating energy, controlling other hormones and maintaining cells throughout the body.
Attacking the problem at its root cause, lead researcher Susanne Neumann, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) have identified a chemical compound that binds to the receptors and acts as an antagonist, keeping the stimulating antibodies from their work and potentially allowing the thyroid cells to revert to normal function.
The findings, published this month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, establish the effect of the receptor antagonist on human thyroid cells. The antagonist has not yet been tested in animals or people and still has multiple steps of toxicology and safety testing before it may be ready for human trials.
Though treatments are available for hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease, including surgery, radioactive iodine, and antithyroid drugs, the relapse rates for these treatments are 5 percent, 21 percent and 40 percent, respectively, and each comes with unfavorable side effects.
"Our goal is to develop an easily produced, orally administered, safe and effective drug with few to no side effects that can be used in place of some of the more invasive treatments of hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease," said Marvin Gershengorn, M.D., chief of the Laboratory of Endocrinology and Receptor Biology within NIDDK's intramural research program and the senior
|Contact: Amy F. Reiter|
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases