Novel tack against diabetes

By thwarting cells from making inflammatory proteins, an experimental drug protects diabetes-prone mice from developing the disease, a new study has found.

The drug, lisofylline, slows the production of the immune-system proteins interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In people with diabetes, inflammation orchestrated by these proteins kills off beta cells, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, and can leave a person dependent on insulin injections.

In the study, 24 mice received five daily injections of a diabetes-inducing chemical known as streptozotocin. Half the mice also got lisofylline injections daily for 2 weeks, starting 5 days before the chemical doses began.

After 45 days, only 3 of the 12 lisofylline mice had developed diabetes, whereas 11 of the 12 others had, says study coauthor Zandong Yang of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in the May Pancreas.

The researchers are currently trying to develop a version of lisofylline that can be taken orally.


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