nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Cure For Type I Diabetes On The Horizon?

This is pretty exciting stuff.  A vaccine against diabetes--in mice only, for now.

This study appeared in Immunity (Apr 10).  Although the narrative of the experiment is almost incomprehensible by normal, intelligent human beings, the implications, once I waded through the abstract about ten times, were impressive.

One mechanism for how diabetes develops (specifically Type I) is called "auto-immunity."  The body begins to produce an immune reaction to itself:  some stimulus to the immune system to form antibodies or cells to fight a foreign substance gets confused by a normal part of the body, so the immune system mistakenly attacks the host. 

In the case of diabetes, the body's immune system mistakes the normal pancreatic cells for foreign objects, and kills them.  Once the pancreatic beta cells are destroyed, the pancreas can no longer regulate blood sugar--the result is diabetes.

Researchers at the Univ of Calgary developed a particle containing bits of protein that revs up a type of immune cell that suppresses the auto-immune attack.

The particle, or "vaccine", prevented the development of diabetes in mice.  The vaccine also slows the development of the disease once present.

This is exciting because it paves the way for the development of a similar vaccine in humans, but it also opens the door to using the same strategy for other auto-immune diseases.

The abstract linked above took me forever to understand.  Here's a slightly more down-to-earth description.


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