Scientists say they have discovered a new treatment for type 1 diabetes.
The researchers say they have identified a process that causes the destruction of beta cells, which produce insulin in the pancreas. They found that the insulin-producing cells need heparan sulphate, a complex sugar, to survive.
”We’ve discovered that replacement of heparan sulphate in the beta cells rescues the cells from dying and prevents them from damage caused by oxidation,” Dr Charmaine Simeonovic from the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra said in a statement.
The study identified the depletion of heparan sulphate as a major cause of the death of beta cells. ”We attribute this cell death to loss of the beta cells’ normal defence against damage by oxidation caused by free radicals, or highly chemically reactive atoms, molecules or ions.”
The team also discovered that autoimmune cells damage beta cells by producing heparanase, an enzyme that degrades heparan sulphate in beta cells.
”This has revealed a new understanding of the development of type 1 diabetes and has identified a new therapeutic strategy for preventing progression of the autoimmune disease and associated complications,” Dr Simeonovic said.
The scientists plan to use their discovery to develop new drugs and have already set up a biotechnology company to do so.
The research has been published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Health-e-Solutions comment: Sounds promising. Years of research and studies still remain before (and if) this treatment will reach the market, if it proves to be viable. In the meantime, we will continue to live the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle and enjoy all of its health benefits today.