A 40-day treatment of type 1 diabetes was shown to cure the disease in mice, say researchers from Massachusetts. The encouraging results could lead to finding a cure for diabetes in humans, they say.
Denise Faustman, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues, published the results in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The treatment entailed re-training the immune systems of the mice to stop attacking islet cells. The researchers achieved this by inducing a natural drug in the body called TNF-alpha to kill the bad cells. Then, they injected the mice with healthy donor cells that train the immune system to leave the islet cells alone instead of killing them off.
As an unexpected outcome, islet cells re-grew in the mice, providing more insulin production and stabilizing their blood sugars. Up to 75 percent of the mice maintained normal sugar levels for at least 100 days after the treatment.
“It’s really a permanent reversal of an established autoimmune disease,” said Dr. Faustman in an interview with Reuters.