gene therapy

People with type 1 diabetes have significantly reduced blood levels of four proteins which protect against the disease, according to scientists.

These four proteins are IL8, IL-1Ra, MCP-1 and MIP-1beta. MIP-1beta has been found to protect against the development of type 1 in animal models, while IL-Ra is being studied in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia evaluated blood samples from 697 children with type 1, and 681 individuals showing no signs of type 1 diabetes. These were then compared to a group including 1,553 type 1 children and 1,493 individuals without any signs of antibodies.

The serum levels of the four proteins were significantly reduced in the type 1 children. Conversely, those with high-risk genes for type 1 had high levels of the four proteins, and were less likely to develop the disease.

Higher levels of the proteins were also found in healthy individuals, and the researchers’ target is to develop a treatment to help children at-risk of type 1 avoid the disease.

They believe that chemokines and cytokines such as MIP-1beta can inhibit inflammation and protect tissue from immune system attack, which characterises type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Ashok Sharma, study author and MCG bioinformatics expert, said: “If the individuals with high-risk genes weren’t making more of the proteins, they likely would have diabetes.

“We are providing evidence that clinical trials with any of these four molecules may work, and if we use them in combination, they may work even better.

“One of the major research foci in our group is to identify biomarkers for various diseases, diabetes, cancer and others. We also want to identify new therapeutic strategies or targets through the discovery of biomarkers.”