JDRF Funded Research Shows Promise for Prevention, Reversal of Type 1 Diabetes
New York, NY, November 18, 2008 -- Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have reported that two common cancer drugs have been used to block and reverse type 1 diabetes in mice. The JDRF-funded study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D., director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and an expert in the field of autoimmunity.
"The findings suggest that kinase inhibitors -- successfully used in cancer -- may provide an important new therapeutic approach for treatment of new onset type 1 diabetes and potentially other autoimmune disorders," said JDRF Director of Immunology Teodora Staeva, Ph.D.
The drugs -- Imatinib and Sunitnib, sold as Gleevec and Sutent, respectively -- are used to treat cancer by blocking tyrosine kinases, an enzyme that modify cells' signaling proteins through a simple biochemical change. Kinases trigger cell growth, and it is widely believed that tyrosine kinases are a contributing factor to autoimmune diseases and cancer. The researchers hypothesized that tyrosine kinases may also serve as a trigger to the body's attack on the immune system.
The researchers at the University of California, San Francisco treated non-diabetic mice prone to developing diabetes with imatinib or sunitinib, and found that the drugs prevented the onset of diabetes past the seven-week treatment. Mice that already developed diabetes were treated with the drugs and results concluded that after two months of treatment, 80 percent no longer had diabetes.
The science was conducted as part of the Immune Tolerance Network, partially funded by JDRF.