Targeting Diabetes: UK Team Cracks Code Of Diabetes Attack On The Body, Promising Slowing Or Even Eradicating The Disease.
The immune system is a funny thing, and not funny “haha” either.
Consider: You never think about it until it isn’t working right. And as soon as you become aware of aware of your immune system, how it operates or it’s supposed to operate, it is already doing something wrong.
In other words, most of us only consider the immune system when it is malfunctioning.
And one of the great ongoing mysteries of the immune system to date has been understanding the mechanisms that Type-1 diabetes employs to trigger the immune system attacks that typify the disease.
But now a team from the UK has found the fifth and final target at which diabetes causes the immune system to mistakenly direct its wrath. The team from the University of Lincoln says the new findings might lead someday to ways to prevent and treat the disease.
“With this new discovery, we have now finished identifying what the immune system is targeting – we have the complete picture,” said research lead Dr. Michael Christie.
Type-1 diabetes causes the immune system to destroy the beta cells that make insulin, the hormone the body uses to keep blood sugar levels in check. And studies have long shown that there are five distinct targets that Type-1 diabetes causes the immune system to target. Until now, we’ve known about four of them, which include insulin, glutamate decarboxylase, IA-2, and zinc transporter-8.
But now the UK researchers say they have identified the fifth element, as it were, known as tetraspanin-7. (They all have to do with insulin, how it is secreted or stored.)
The previous knowledge of the first four components is already being used to slow the progression of Type-1 diabetes in other tests, but with this new information it is hoped that those efforts can be redoubled and advanced even further.
“We’re hoping that, by having identified the major targets in the disease, we can find ways to prevent it by blocking the immune response to these five proteins without leaving that person vulnerable to infections,” Dr. Christie added. “With recent improvements in our understanding of the disease I’m very hopeful we’ll develop a treatment now; I have a lot more confidence than even five years ago.”
It should be stressed that Type 1 diabetes is genetically based, striking children and younger people, whereas Type 2 is usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices, and more frequently develops later in life.