Kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, gangrene and limb amputation can occur if blood sugar levels are not managed properly
A breakthrough in the treatment of type 1 diabetes has halved the number of mice developing the disease and could revolutionise the way the autoimmune fault is treated within a decade.
Currently sufferers need insulin injections every day but researchers at the Australian National University believe their research could delay or stop the disease if it is caught early.
More than 130,000 Australian have type 1 diabetes. A team lead by Charmaine Simeonovic and Professor Christopher Parish from The John Curtin School of Medical Research have identified a previously unknown process which kills insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Dr Simeonovic said the research showed that beta cells found in the pancreas need heparan sulphate to survive. As part of the study mice were treated with a heparanase inhibitor, PI-88, which preserved heparan sulphate in the beta cells of the pancreas and protected against type 1 diabetes.
”We were able to reduce the instance of diabetes by 50 per cent in the long term,” Dr Simeonovic said.
”By treating them around the time they are diagnosed we believe that treatment would prevent progression of the disease and thereby prevent the complications.”
Kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, gangrene and limb amputation can occur if blood sugar levels are not managed properly.
”This treatment may also not only preserve the beta cells but it may actually allow insulin – in that honeymoon period where low levels of insulin are required – to return to normal levels. Where there are still some residual beta cells that haven’t been destroyed, we think this treatment will protect those beta cells from destruction.”
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