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Protein levels could signal that a child will develop diabetes
Date:4/25/2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. Decreasing blood levels of a protein that helps control inflammation may be a red flag that could help children avoid type 1 diabetes, researchers say.

Georgia Health Sciences University researchers are looking at blood levels of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, or IL-1ra, in children being closely followed because their genes put them at risk for type 1 diabetes. They also are looking at diabetic mice missing IL-1ra to see how the protein deficiency affects immune function and destruction of insulin-producing islet beta cells.

"We want to know if we can use IL-1ra levels to identify children who will soon develop the disease, then use IL-1 inhibitors to prevent it," said Dr. Sharad Purohit, biochemist in the GHSU Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine.

IL-1ra helps reduce inflammation and Purohit's preliminary evidence suggests that low levels predict inflammation is increasing and the immune system is going to attack insulin-producing cells. A three-year, $500,000 grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will help him explore the hypothesis in the blood of about 2,500 children as well as the diabetic mice.

Il-1 inhibitors already are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, where inflammation destroys joints. Clinical trials are underway in type 1 diabetes and to see if an inhibitor can halt the islet cell destruction that occurs in type 1 diabetes as well.

While acknowledging the inhibitor may improve type 1diabetes outcome, GHSU scientists want to know if it can also be used preventively, said Dr. Jin-Xiong She, Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine.

IL-1ra competes with its counterpart IL-1beta for the IL-1 receptor. In type 1 diabetes, inflammation-promoting IL-1beta appears to be winning. "It's a balance; it's a competition," She said. "There is always a balance between beta cell production and destruction and any process that can change the balance can push you
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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