Type 1 diabetes is one of many autoimmune disorders that exist. In this particular disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells, leaving the body unable to regulate blood glucose levels effectively. Many researchers have been focused on the immune system and how these diseases may develop when it comes to autoimmune disorders.
But a recent study found that expanding the focus to look at other contributing factors, such as genetics and cell signaling, may help treat and potentially curing conditions such as type 1 diabetes (T1D). Dr. Decio Eizirik, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Director for Indiana Biosciences Research Institute Diabetes Center, published findings of a study on candidate genes, target tissue, and the cellular dialogue between the two.
His team evaluated gene expression for four autoimmune diseases, including T1D, and found that a commonality between them was that “more than 85% of the candidate genes for each disease are expressed at the target tissue level.” More specifically, they zeroed in on the TYK2 enzyme, which plays an integral role in controlling immune and inflammatory signaling pathways and cell response. Reducing TYK2 response may help to protect cells against the destruction that can lead to T1D.
There are already several TYK2-inhibitor drugs on the market that the FDA has approved to treat other autoimmune disorders. Dr. Eizirik is interested in seeing whether they may serve as an effective treatment option for T1D to potentially stop the disease before it develops in individuals identified as high-risk.
There are nearly 1.6 million Americans currently living with T1D, and these numbers have only continued to increase over recent years. Finding potential treatment options and preventive measures could positively impact disease progression and diagnosis in the future. Dr. Eizirik is excited about the international collaboration that has been occurring between scientists and the sharing of data to support research initiatives.
While additional studies are needed to determine whether TYK2 inhibitors effectively prevent or treat T1D, this research is a step in the right direction toward opening new doors and stimulating more research opportunities. The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested in what role this information may play in future T1D treatment.
The DRC, though not involved in this study, is dedicated to supporting T1D research through providing funding for early-career scientists to pursue novel research studies. To learn more about current projects or how to donate, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.
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