American researchers have found a further antibody in the human blood that could aid in predicting whether people are genetically predisposed to type 1 diabetes . The findings, by a research team at the Barbara Davis Centre for Childhood Diabetes alongside the University of Colorado and the HSC (Health Sciences Centre) School of Medicine, will be published in the journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The fourth antibody, known as ZnT8 allows scientists to predict with 96 per cent certainty whether someone will develop type 1 diabetes. The research director at the BD centre, the senior author, John Hutto, reportedly commented: “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.”
The team analysed blood from thousands of previous study participants. Using a technique called microarray analysis, ZnT8 was identified. Hutton reportedly concluded: “Ultimately, we’d 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 .”

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