Australian researchers developing new immune therapy to tackle type 1 diabetes

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Researchers from Queensland, Australia are developing a new treatment that aims to tackle the autoimmune attack that causes type 1 diabetes.
Professor Ranjeny Thomas from the University of Queensland, Diamantina Institute is leading the research team. They are developing a treatment that is designed to balance the immune system.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system singles out and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. So far, researchers from around the world have yet to discover how to prevent the immune system from carrying out this autoimmune attack.
The team from Queensland is one of a number of research teams looking to make a breakthrough in controlling the autoimmune attack. To do this they are looking at using a liposome (fat covered cell) that contains a protein from the pancreas that serves as an ‘immune red flag’.
It is hoped that signalling a red flag may change how the immune system responds. In addition, the researchers will use a drug to calm the immune system and lessen the severity of the autoimmune attack.
“We are excited to leverage the immune system’s potential to heal itself, which is a completely different approach to insulin replacement,” Prof. Thomas stated.
The treatment has so far shown success in treating mice engineered to develop a form of diabetes similar to type 1 diabetes. Whilst many treatments have been successful in treating mice, no treatment has yet been developed that tackles type 1 diabetes in humans.
Prof. Thomas’ team have been recruiting patients from the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for human trials and hope to start those trials in around two years’ time.
The research team has received $1.2 million (US dollars) funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The funding is administered by type 1 diabetes charity JDRF Australia.