Cancer Drug Shown to Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes

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insulinMedicine that is already used to treat cancer patients has been shown effective at preventing the development of type 1 diabetes, while also protecting insulin-producing cells from being destroyed. Findings from the study performed by researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen were published in the distinguished science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). The findings were also made by the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Southern Denmark, working with researchers in Belgium, Italy, Canada, Netherlands and the US.

The drug currently used in the treatment of some types of cancer was used in the study in very low doses, and shown to protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and to prevent development of type 1 diabetes in mice. There is no current cure for type 1 diabetes, and it is a growing problem around the world. The drug that is used to treat lymphoma, lysine deacetylase inhibitor, resets the immune response so that it does not attach insulin-producing cells. This results in a lower number of immune cells in the pancreas, with more insulin being produced when mice were given the medicine in drinking water than would otherwise develop type 1 diabetes.

The doses of the drug used in the research were 100 times lower than those used in cancer treatment. The drugs have been shown safe for use in children who have certain rheumatic diseases. This discovery is a positive step towards the development of a preventive treatment for the type of diabetes that occurs when the person’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Onset can occur during childhood or adult years.

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