Protein injection may help fight type 1 diabetes, study finds

Protein injection may help fight type 1 diabetes, study finds

Scientists at Linköping University in Sweden, funded by the pharmaceutical company Diamyd Medical, have just presented the results of a study investigating a possible treatment for immunotherapy against diabetes. According to research called DIAGNODE-2, which was published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care, the injection of a protein can be effective to fight this disease.

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Studies have shown that injecting a protein called GAD65 (glutamate decarboxylase) into lymph nodes, also known as lymph nodes, helps to preserve insulin production in the body, since an individual with type 1 diabetes lives with the immune system attacking the cells responsible for producing insulin.

Image: Reproduction / xb100 / Freepik

When these cells disappear, then, the body cannot regulate the blood sugar level, forcing the patient to apply exogenous insulin until the end of life. Therefore, one of the most investigated questions by scientists is whether there is a way to delay or interrupt the attack of the immune system, then entering the possible solution for the injection.

According to the study, the protein glutamate decarboxylase is one of the targets that the body tries to fight with antibodies, and one of the authors of the study, Johnny Ludvigsson, has been studying for years the search for a way for the body to tolerate the production of the protein.

Studies have shown that even an extremely low insulin production in the body is highly beneficial to a patient’s health, “explains Ludvigsson.” People with diabetes who produce a certain amount of insulin naturally do not develop low blood sugar levels, hypoglycemia, so easily “, adds the scientist, also saying that these patients are less likely to develop ketoacidosis (production of excess blood acids) with risk of death, which happens when there is not enough insulin in the body.

Study methodology

Johnny Ludvigsson and his team presented in the research the results of a phase 2 clinical study, which had the collaboration of 109 young people aged between 12 and 24 years with type 1 diabetes and who were recently diagnosed. After administering the injection, the scientists measured the natural production of insulin at the beginning of the study and repeated the process 15 months later, analyzing the change in blood sugar levels over the long term, as well as the amount of supplemental insulin that patients needed to replenish. daily.

The research also examined several variants of what is known as HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) genes, which encode proteins that are located on the surface of some cells. The genes act as carriers of proteins, exposing them to cells of the immune system. So, if the exposed protein fragment contains bacteria, the immune system forms antibodies to fight that intruder.

Image: Reproduction / Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels

When the immune system fights the body’s own substance, there is a greater chance that some types of HLA will increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. The study explains that the HLA-DR3-DQ2 variant, for example, was in about half of the study participants, exposes the GAD65 protein to cells of the immune system and that patients who have this variant end up forming antibodies against the protein early in the disease.

In the entire group of patients who participated in the study, there was no difference between the placebo treatment, while with the injection of the protein the result was positive in patients who had the HLA-DR3-DQ2 variant, and these individuals did not lose insulin production. as quickly as the other volunteers. On the other hand, in those who did not have this variant, the effect was not significant, but there were also no negative results during the study.

Johnny Ludvigsson says the treatment appears to be promising, simple and safe, and that he is eager to conduct further studies with his team. You can consult the survey on this link.