Anti-Cancer Drugs in Lab Mice Trials Prevent or Reverse Type 1

The findings suggest that the struggle to prevent and cure type 1 may have found two powerful weapons that will not require years of research or large outlays of money to produce.

Nov 24, 2008

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that two drugs used to treat cancer can prevent or cure type 1 diabetes in mice.

The drugs, sunitinib (marketed as Sutent) and imatinib (marketed as Gleevec), prevented the development of type 1 in mice specially bred to have a predisposition to acquiring the disease. 

Of the already diabetic mice that received imatinib, 80 percent went into remission. And 80 percent of those that went into remission experienced a total cure-a cure rate of 64 percent.

The findings suggest that the struggle to prevent and cure type 1 may have found two powerful weapons that will not require years of research or large outlays of money to produce. Even better, UCSF researchers say that they hope to begin using the drugs in human trials within a year.

The UCSF research team was looking into the cancer drugs because they inhibit some of the enzymes that are associated with cell growth and proliferation. Scientists think the enzymes, called tyrosine kinases, are involved in almost every aspect of the immune system, from benign signaling that summons T and B cells for defense to misfirings that create inflammation that often leads to tissue damage.

Because type 1 is an autoimmune disease, the team wondered if the subset of tyrosine kinases controlled by the cancer drugs might be the same enzymes that create pancreatic inflammation in people with diabetes. 

What they found surprised them. The drugs' effectiveness seemed to come from their ability to block a tyrosine kinase that has no known connection to diabetes, an enzyme called "platelet-derived growth factor receptor" (PDGFR). 

In a statement UCSF released to the press, Arthur Weiss, MD, PhD, UCSF professor of rheumatology, said, "This study opens up a new area of research in the field of type 1 diabetes and, importantly, opens up exciting opportunities for developing new therapies to treat this disease and other autoimmune diseases." 

In the same release, Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and an expert in autoimmunity, said, "There are very few drugs to treat type 1 diabetes, especially after disease onset, so this benefit, with a drug already proven to be safe and effective in cancer patients, is very promising. 

"The fact that the treated mice maintained normal blood glucose levels for some time after the drug treatment was stopped suggests that imatinib and sunitinib may be ‘reprogramming' their immune systems in a permanent way.

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Medications Research, Research, Type 1 Issues

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Posted by cj22 on 24 November 2008

This would be the biggest blessing any parent could ask for. My son has had diabetes since he was 19. I would be the happiest mother in the world if this could reverse this desease. Gives hope to so many.

Posted by Anonymous on 25 November 2008

Please let us know when/where the trials will be held. I'll be first in line!

Posted by cjensen61 on 28 November 2008

It's about time that someone finds a cure for those suffering from type 1. We read so much about type 2 that it is refreshing to see good news about type 1 for once. Hope it truly ends up being the cure.

Posted by Monica on 1 December 2008

This would be a phenominal break through. I am so excited about it! I've had Diabetes I for 25 years, since I was 3, and through this time there has been so much research and emphasis put on Type II Diabetes that it is a bit dis-heartening at times. God bless anyone working on the research tiral.

Posted by ladybelle_o3 on 17 December 2008

I've had type 1 diabetes since i was 11 years old... for 12 years now I've been struggling with it while my insulin dosage continues to get higher and higher, costing me upwards of $500 a month. If there is even a slight chance that this could work as a cure... I don't even have words to describe the utter joy and relief that I would feel. Where can I register for human trials?!?

Posted by Anonymous on 10 February 2009

I'm a Dad - My son was diagnosed 3-1/2 years ago. He's now 11. This would be the best thing in the world. I just hope the studies go well and there is no red tape.

Posted by Anonymous on 27 March 2009

Oh my I am for a cure right now. My daughter has diabetes for 12 years. The thing with me is they post all this crap and then get you all excited for a cure and you wait and wait and nothing it is aways five yeares away. It is easier to say she is going to live with this the rest of her life then say five more years, belive me we have been through five years five different times and nothing so for all you out there learn all you can and god will heal all of you when he feels the time is right

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