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New Diabetes Research To Be Presented at FOCIS Annual Meeting

Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies presentations highlight important findings recognized by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation awards

BOSTON, June 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) announces the presentation of awards to two researchers recognizing significant findings related to advancement of Type 1 Diabetes research. The awards will be made following a research symposia on June 5, in conjunction with the 8th annual meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS), being held at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, June 5-9. During the FOCIS annual meeting, an international representation of leading scientists will discuss recent advances in the understanding and treating of immune-mediated diseases in a series of 55 educational sessions presented to 1,200 researchers and physicians at FOCIS 2008. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), in conjunction with FOCIS, is the sponsor of the special awards in the area of type 1 diabetes research.

Anti-CD20 therapy delays or prevents recurrent type 1 diabetes

This study, led by Changyun Hu, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, shows that therapy with a monoclonal antibody to a marker on B lymphocytes leads to effective therapy of type 1 diabetes in a preclinical model. Similar therapies are known to be effective for some forms of cancer and other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and a current clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health is evaluating the comparable treatment in young adults newly diagnosed with autoimmune diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where white cells of the immune system attack the insulin-producing beta cells. Current therapy with insulin does not address the underlying cause. The Yale group studied the mechanisms by which anti-CD20 therapy works in diabetes treatment, which has the potential for short-term therapy to lead to long-term benefits--even potential reversal of disease. Other investigators contributing to the new findings are from the University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Glucose levels can accelerate damage to insulin-producing cells

This study, led by Anna Skowera, King's College London, School of Medicine at Guy's, London, United Kingdom earned the second of the special research awards. Dr. Skowera's research identified a type of killer T lymphocyte which responds to a target comprised on a sequence within the precursor of insulin (called preproinsulin). They found that the target sequence is displayed at higher and higher levels by the insulin-producing beta cell as the glucose concentration around it goes up. In other words, the beta cell contributes to its own destruction when it tries to respond to high glucose levels by making more of this target sequence. The findings bring researchers closer to finding the elements causing of beta cell destruction and to strategies for the prevention of this destruction. One important implication of this study is that maintaining good glucose blood levels is very important for regulating the amount of beta cell damage. Other investigators contributing to the new findings include Min Zhao, Guo Cai Huang and Mark Peakman, also of King's College, London.

About Diabetes, JDRF, and FOCIS

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and adult blindness in the United States, and is the sixth leading cause of death, shortening life expectancy by an average of 7 to 10 years. Approximately 21 million Americans have diabetes, including 3 million with type 1 diabetes.

The JDRF is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 (juvenile diabetes research worldwide. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through support of research.

FOCIS is a federation made up of 36 professional societies dedicated to improving human health through immunology. The FOCIS annual scientific meeting hosts delegates representing diverse specialties related to clinical immunology including allergy, dermatology, diabetes, genetics, multiple sclerosis, nephrology, oncology, pathology, transplantation and more. This four and one-half day symposium is an energetic working forum for the exchange of cutting-edge science and insights into autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

For more information about FOCIS 2008 visit

Contact: Gail Bast

FOCIS Executive Director


Cell: (414) 640-1635

SOURCE Federation of Clinical Immunology
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