Predicting Type 1 Diabetes Better
Reported October 18, 2007
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Researchers have uncovered a fourth antibody that can better predict who is at risk for type 1 diabetes.
Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and affects only about 5 percent of the diabetic population in the United States. About 95 percent of people with diabetes have type-2 diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder (rather than an autoimmune disease).
In type-1 diabetes, the bodys immune system mistakenly attacks and kills insulin-producing cells. Currently, doctors can measure three antibodies in the blood to diagnose diabetes before its onset — providing a 90-percent chance of accurately predicting the disease. But researchers from the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and the University of Colorado at Denver have discovered a fourth antibody, called ZnT8, that can up the prediction rate to 96 percent.
John Hutton, Ph.D., from the Barbara Davis Center, was quoted as saying, This is incredibly exciting for us since this new target is the first to be discovered in 10 years. ZnT8 shows great value as a diagnostic tool and we believe testing for it will very quickly become routine in all of the ongoing clinical research studies. For example, this fourth autoantigen will find immediate use in identifying individuals with a family history of diabetes or a genetic predisposition to the disease for recruitment into clinical trials aimed at preventing diabetes.
ZnT8 was one of thousands of potential candidates researchers examined as targets for determining type-1 diabetes risk. It won out because the protein is only expressed in insulin-secreting cells and is associated with the mechanism of insulin release. Seventy percent of people with diabetes test positive for the antibody, compared to less than 1 percent of controls who test positive.
Dr. Hutton reports, Ultimately, wed like to be able to prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place. It could be possible by catching it in the very early stages and then manipulating the immune system. ZnT8 itself might be part of that therapy since it has been shown in diabetes-prone mice that administering antigen as a vaccine can prevent disease, a similar approach that is currently used to counter allergies. We also hope that the same genomics-based approach will be applicable to other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online Oct. 15, 2007