Potential therapeutic target for diabetes identified

February 5th, 2010 - 5:17 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 5 (ANI): Scientists have identified a potential target for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.

The research team at Eastern Virginia Medical School, led by Jerry Nadler, has been studying the role of the enzyme 12-Lipoxygenase (12-LO) in the development of Type 1 diabetes.

They hope that targeting this enzyme will hold the key to a cure.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that develops when the pancreas stops generating enough insulin to maintain normal levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Insulin moves sugar from the bloodstream to cells so that it can be used to generate energy.

In Type 1 diabetes, a person’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells, found only in the pancreas.

When the beta cells die, the body no longer can produce enough insulin to regulate blood-glucose levels, and this can lead to serious health complications, even death, without treatment.

It is generally understood that inflammation plays a vital role in beta-cell destruction. But the precise factors are not well known.

A protein-based enzyme found in beta cells, 12-LO produces specific lipids that cause inflammation and can lead to the death of beta cells in laboratory models.

In fact, EVMS researchers have demonstrated that deleting the gene that produces 12-LO prevents the development of Type 1 diabetes in mice.

The challenge has been to validate that 12-LO and its pro-inflammatory lipid products have a role in human diabetes.

The EVMS team has confirmed that 12-LO is indeed found in human islets, and in humans, like in mice, its pro-inflammatory lipid products can lead to lower insulin production and beta cell death.

“We’ve now confirmed that 12-LO is a relevant target in humans, particularly in the pancreas, and will help lead to new therapies,” study author Kaiwen Ma said.

The study has been published in the February issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. (ANI)

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