The Next Step In Preventing Diabetes: Optimized Insulin Mimetopes

Posted: Mar 16 2016, 8:00am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
The Next Step in Preventing Diabetes: Optimized Insulin Mimetopes
Optimized mimetopes increase the number of regulatory T cells (transcription factor Foxp3 in red) in the vicinity of the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas (insulin in green). Credit: Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen
  • Diabetes Prevention takes a Giant Leap Forward

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It might just be the case that diabetes prevention is about to take a giant leap forward.

In Germany alone about 30,000 people have type 1 diabetes. Especially in little kids and teenagers, it is the public enemy #1. In order to reverse or at least forestall this progression of the disease, a group of youthful investigators have taken up the battle cry. Care is better than cure and that is the watchword for this posse of youngsters. They want to uproot the disease via biochemical means. The young scientists looked into the impact of especially modified insulin mimetopes on the immunity.

"In particular, we wanted to find out whether we can induce the protective regulatory T cells to produce a tolerance of the body against insulin, if we bring them into contact with our novel peptides," said Dr. Carolin Daniel, who leads a young investigator group and directs the study.

The induction of T cells, which are responsible for regulation and protection, in order to instigate a tolerance of the body against insulin was studied. When they were brought into contact with chains of peptides, the reaction was noted down. The study was actually concerned with a finding that was made several years ago. Insulin mimetopes were the name of the game. As they optimized, they curbed the immune system. Thus an artificially-induced tolerance level was built up for insulin. As compared to the natural epitopes, this was the revolutionary result of human interventionism.

In fact, in juvenile mice in the lab, the induction of insulin mimetopes in small doses totally put a full stop to the progression of type 1 diabetes. The study was published and it is the source of much excitement among the scientific crowd. Among mice, which have immune systems similar to humans, this model seemed to reign supreme. Confirmation of the results was noted down in these young mice. The novel vaccine of sorts that has been developed wiped out any traces of type 1 diabetes in the lab rodents. The long term plans so far are to test the method on children who are prime candidates for type 1 diabetes. A series of clinical trials and tests will have to be carried out before anything can be said with surety. The overall scheme does look promising though. "An important step will be to test the new therapy clinically - that is our vision", said Daniel with regard to the future.

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