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Procedure offers hope in type 1 diabetes

New strategy proves curative in more than half of mice tested

A three-pronged strategy — to knock out renegade immune cells, replace them and revitalize other cells that make insulin — might reverse type 1 diabetes. Scientists report in the May 9 Science Translational Medicine that seven of 12 diabetic mice treated with this combination were cured even after having lost the ability to make insulin for several weeks, the equivalent of a human patient who has needed insulin injections for a couple of years. 

Type 1 diabetes often strikes at an early age and relegates a person to a lifetime of blood sugar tests and insulin shots. The condition results when one’s own immune cells kill insulin-making cells called beta cells housed in the pancreas. A few of these beta cells usually survive, but don’t produce adequate insulin to process sugars.

In the new study, researchers used specially designed antibodies in the mice to first wipe out rogue beta-cell-killing T cells from the immune system.

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