Could a Novel Drug Prevent Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes may be preventing by a new drug candidate that inhibits the gene associated with the onset of the disease, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

In this study, Timo Otonkoski, and colleagues from the University of Helsinki in Finland investigated the mechanisms of action of the risk genes associated with type 1 diabetes  “We focused on a gene known as TYK2, as its mutations are known to protect against type 1 diabetes,” Otonkoski said.

The investigators postulated that inhibiting the expression of the TYK2 gene could slow the destruction of the pancreatic beta cells that causes the onset of type 1 diabetes. The hypothesis confirmed, as the study found that and the destruction of beta cells was effectively stopped by inhibiting TYK2 expression.

“The destruction of beta cells is the result of an autoimmune reaction where white blood cells activated by the body’s immune system attack their own tissues. Using the TYK2 inhibitor, the havoc wreaked by the white blood cells was markedly reduced,” Otonkoski confirms.

Moreover, the study showed that eliminating the effect of the TYK2 gene resulted in a decrease of the differentiation of pancreatic islet cells, translating to a reduction in beta cell production.

According to Otonkoski, the effect of TYK2 inhibitors in the prevention of diabetes should next be studied in animal models. If the results are positive, the next step to clinical trials can be taken.