Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have identified an enzyme thought to be an important instigator of the inner-body conflict that causes Type 1 diabetes. A chronic condition that affects nearly three million American children and adults, Type 1 diabetes is more severe than Type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also called autoimmune diabetes, arises when the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells start destroying the beta-cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
To shed light on how this conflict begins, researchers focused on a single gene, 12/15-lipoxygenase (12/15-LO). This gene leads to the production of the enzyme, which appears to have an important role in the activation of white blood cells in the pancreas.
Researchers developed non-obese diabetic female mice to serve as a model of Type 1 diabetes. After turning off the 12/15-LO gene in study mice, they discovered that these mice without the enzyme were 97 percent less likely to develop diabetes than mice that had normal levels of it, according to the study, published online in the journal Diabetes (to be published in print in February 2008).
“This research is exciting because it advances our knowledge of a new gene that is involved in causing Type 1 diabetes and could pave the way for new treatments to prevent or reverse this increasingly prevalent disease,” says Dr. Jerry L. Nadler, who is chief of the University of Virginia Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Release date: November 6, 2007
Source: University of Virginia Health System
Filed Under: Genomics/Proteomics