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New data from NIH lab confirms protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice

New data published in the Nov. 24 issue of Science supports the protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice and there is proof now that adult precursor cells// from the spleen can add to the renewal of beta cells. In 2001 and 2003, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) showed the benefits of a procedure to turnaround type 1 diabetes in diabetic mice.

Three studies from other institutions published in the March 24, 2006 issue of Science confirmed that the MGH-developed protocol can reverse the underlying disease but were inconclusive on the role of spleen cells in the recovery of insulin-producing pancreatic islets. The new data from a study performed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published as a technical comment, provides additional confirmation of the ability to reverse type 1 diabetes and on the role of the spleen cells in islet regeneration.

"This data from the NIH and the earlier studies have added significantly to the understanding of how diabetes may be reversed," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, primary author of the 2001 and 2003 studies and co-corresponding author of the current report. "It is still early, but it appears that there are multiple potential sources for regenerating islets. As a research community we should pursue all avenues. We're excited to see what will happen in humans."

In the 2001 and 2003 studies, Faustman and colleagues treated end-stage nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice with Freund's complete adjuvant, a substance that suppresses the activity of the immune cells that destroy islets in type 1 diabetes. They also introduced donor spleen cells to retrain the immune system not to attack islets and found that the protocol not only halted the immune destruction caused by diabetes but also allowed the insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells to regenerate. Evidence indicated that the spleen cells were the sourc
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