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Genetic studies lead to clinical trial of new treatment for type 1 diabetes
Date:6/11/2013

A clinical trial is underway for a potential new treatment for type 1 diabetes that could eventually mean patients are able to reduce insulin treatment from several times a day to only once or twice a week. The new treatment is a direct result of research to understand the genetics of the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common severe chronic autoimmune disease worldwide and the incidence of the disease is rising rapidly. It causes the immune system to mistake cells in the pancreas as harmful and attack them. When these cells are damaged the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, which plays an essential role in transferring glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells to be converted into energy. The management of type 1 diabetes usually involves measuring the amount of glucose in the blood and injecting artificial insulin to make up for the insulin the pancreas is not producing.

Type 1 diabetes is known to be a genetically complex disease there is no single gene that causes the disease, but rather dozens of genes that increase the risk of developing the disease. However, genetic studies have identified variants of one particular gene known as interleukin-2, or IL2 which appears to play a prominent role. IL-2 is important in helping regulate the immune system.

Now, for the first time, researchers at Addenbrooke's Hospital and the Wellcome Trust funded Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) at the University of Cambridge are investigating whether interleukin-2 in the form of a drug called aldesleukin (Proleukin) could be used to halt the damage to the pancreas in people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and, if so, what dose of the drug is required for the best results.

Professor John Todd, FRS from the JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory, University of Cambridge says: "Studying the genetics of type 1 diabetes has proved essential to help us understand what is happening in the disease
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Contact: Jen Middleton
j.middleton@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7262
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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