Discovery changes cure studies
A 'paradigm shift' may have been identified regarding
scientists' approach to developing treatments for type 1
US researchers report that type 1 diabetes could be delayed
following a study on animals where certain defective cells were
Prior to this trial, studies have focused on preserving beta
cells, which are needed to produce insulin, to delay the onset of
type 1 diabetes.
But now, the study team from the University of California in San
Francisco say they have evidence to suggest clearing out these
cells could be far more effective.
Lead author Professor Anil Bhushan said: "This is a paradigm shift
for T1 diabetes therapy. This data suggests the problem may not be
an immune system gone awry. Instead, perhaps therapies should find
a way to do the job the immune system is failing to do: clear the
senescent (deteriorating) cells early on."
Prof Bhushan and colleagues hypothesise that type 1 diabetes is
attributable to secretory senescence, the name given to a process
where pancreatic beta cells stop working and leak signs of their
damage onto neighbouring cells.
The team believes this process sends the immune system into
overdrive, damaging the insulin-producing structure beyond
They tested their theory in mice engineered to develop type 1
diabetes, and the animals responded to a cancer drug called
Venetoclax which is used to clear up senescent cells before they
cause more damage elsewhere.
Researcher Ajit Shah, who also worked on the study, said: "These
findings support the idea that senescent beta cells are like the
bad apples that spoil the whole basket.
"Here we show that eliminating the bad apples can save the rest,
which brings a new therapeutic avenue for treating patients with T1
The findings will need to be replicated in humans before any
progress can be made regarding future treatments, so it is still
early days. However, this is an exciting approach that could yet
lead to significant changes regarding how scientists view treating
and preventing type 1 diabetes.
The results have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.