It is another good day for the NOD mouse. (The NOD mouse is used as an animal model of type 1 diabetes.) In a study reported in today's issue of New Scientist and re-quoted by the BBC, scientists Terry Strom and colleagues at Harvard Medical School in Boston have been able to not only halt the damaging immune attack on the beta cells, but by adding a 4th drug to their cocktail, have also seen a resulting increase in the number of insulin-producing beta cells. The article suggests that these mice were effectively "cured" of diabetes. In previous experiments, they were able to halt the immune attack but concluded that the restoration of euglycemia (i.e., normal blood sugar) was due to the ability of remaining beta cells to produce insulin. In this new study, which was presented by Strom last week in Berlin, Germany at the International Conference on New Trends in Immunosuppression and Immunotherapy, mice were administered the same cocktail of drugs as before, plus another enzyme, alpha 1 anti-trypsin, which has a role in reducing inflammation. Fifty days after treatment, an increase in the number of insulin-producing beta cells was seen. The article quotes Strom as saying that it is too early to know whether the increase was due to existing beta cells producing insulin again or due to generation of new beta cells. Clinical trials are planned. The previous research study was funded by the JDRF and NIH but it was not reported who supported this current study.
(By the way, I paid for a subscription so I could read the whole article, but it doesn't say a whole lot more than the BBC article. I guess we'll have to wait for Strom to get his paper on this published.)