t cell

Could the development of type 1 diabetes be prevented by receptors of TH17 cells in humans? That’s the question facing researchers from Saint Louis University after they found that this method prevented type 1 diabetes developing in mice engineered to have the autoimmune condition.

TH17 cells (T helper 17 cells) are a type of immune cell that have been linked with a number of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. The research team targeted two receptors of the TH17 cells, ROR alpha and gamma t, with an inverse agonist of these receptors called SR1001, which was developed by lead researcher Thomas Burris, Ph.D.

When SR1001 was tested in the mice with early signs of type 1 diabetes, the treatment prevented loss of insulin producing ability and prevented hyperglycemia. Furthermore, the researchers noted that autoantibody production was decreased and regulatory T cell activity was increased, both of which represent potential for having an effect on type 1 diabetes in humans.

Burris is confident about the treatment, saying: “None of the animals on the treatment developed diabetes even when we started treatment after significant beta cell damage had already occurred. We believe this type of treatment would slow the progression of type I diabetes in people or potentially even eliminate the need for insulin therapy.”

This is not the first time type 1 diabetes has been cured or prevented in mice. A number of other methods have been used to stop type 1 diabetes in mice but no treatment has yet to show significant evidence of success within humans.