Low doses of cancer drug prevent Type 1 diabetes in mice

Low doses of a cancer drug may be able to act as a preventive drug against the development of Type 1 diabetes, according to new findings.

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Researchers tested lysine deacetylase inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat lymphoma, in mice. The drugs lower harmful inflammation levels by blocking the molecules that send inflammation signals into insulin-producing cells. This protects vital insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from being destroyed from exposure to high inflammation. Using doses 100 times lower than those used in cancer treatment shown to be safe in children, the drug prevented the development of diabetes mellitus Type 1 in mice.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Southern Denmark working with collaborators in Belgium, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands and the U.S. published the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our research shows that very low doses of anticancer drugs used to treat lymphoma--so-called lysine deacetylase inhibitors--can reset the immune response to not attack the insulin-producing cells. We find fewer immune cells in the pancreas, and more insulin is produced when we give the medicine in the drinking water to mice that would otherwise develop Type 1 diabetes," says first author Dan Ploug Christensen of the University of Copenhagen.

The researchers also tested the cancer drug on insulin-producing tissue from organ donors exposed to inflammation signals and found that the drug delayed the destruction of human cells.

Currently, Type 1 diabetes must be treated with several insulin injections a day. There is no cure yet for the disease.

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The next step for the researchers is to take the drug to clinical trials to test its effect on people at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, such as family members of patients with the disease.

- here's the study abstract
- read the press release