More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Study: antioxidant may slow type 1 diabetes in mice

Jan 25, 2002
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON,  (Reuters)

A synthetic molecule has proven effective in slowing the development of a type of diabetes in mice, leading researchers to believe that similar molecules could be created to block type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases in humans.

Researchers at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver and the University of Colorado said on Friday a synthetic antioxidant--a molecule used to block the damaging effects of oxidation on body tissue--could slow or prevent the death of cells needed by the body to produce insulin.

A team lead by Drs. James Crapo and Brian Day studied the effects of the antioxidant that mimics a naturally occurring molecule within the body, but lasts longer and can protect the body from a wider range of other antioxidants.

The molecule is now licensed by Incara Pharmaceuticals Corp.

"It does appear to delay and prevent diabetes, but you would have to be on this for quite a long period of time to prevent diabetes," Day told Reuters. "It is possible that people with a history of juvenile diabetes could be put on this or a similar kind of therapy."

The study, which looked at type 1 or juvenile diabetes, was published in the journal Diabetes. Approximately one million Americans, or about 5% to 10% of all diabetics, have type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, is by far the most common and occurs when the body loses its sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is used by the body to turn sugars in the blood into fuel for the body.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body mistakenly recognizes insulin-producing cells as foreign invaders and the body's T cells attack them.

During the study, the synthetic antioxidant was injected into 10 mice one day before they were given a separate dose of T cells that trigger diabetes. Researchers administered the antioxidant to the mice four more times, with the last injection coming nine days after the study began.

The researchers report that none of the mice given the antioxidant showed any signs of diabetes after 21 days, and five remained diabetes-free when the study ended after four weeks. A 'control' group of five mice that were not given the molecule became diabetic by day 13.

"The drug actually triggers a response in the immune system that is long-lived," said Day, who estimated the drug lasts about 15 hours within the body.

He cautioned, however, that it is too soon to tout the drug as a cure-all without further tests and refining of the drug.

"It appears that the drug is not permanent in all of the responses ... because some of the animals (given the antioxidant) still went diabetic," he said.

Researchers are optimistic that this antioxidant and others like it could be used to treat immune diseases in humans such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Incara Pharmaceuticals is currently studying whether the antioxidant could be used to protect patients receiving new pancreatic cells from other donors. Currently, the body recognizes many of these new cells as foreign and works to destroy them.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited