New research suggests that a natural molecule may protect against autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes.
The study, published in Nature Communications by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), claims that NAD+ (an oxidised form of co-enzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) can alter the immune response of cells and repair tissue integrity by activating stem cells.
Autoimmunity is a process in which our immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. This can lead to the development of diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
“Our study is the first to show that NAD+ can tune the immune response and restore tissue integrity by activating stem cells,” said Abdallah ElKhal, PhD, BWH Division of Transplant Surgery and Transplantation Surgery Research Laboratory, senior study author. “These findings are very novel and may serve for the development of novel therapeutics.”
The study, performed on mice, used NAD+ to block chronic and acute inflammation. The NAD+ molecules can alter the way that immune cells, called CD4+T cells, differentiate between “good” cells and “bad” cells, thereby making immune cells less likely to attack healthy tissues and organs.
“This is a universal molecule that can potentially treat not only autoimmune diseases, but other acute or chronic conditions such as allergy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sepsis and immunodeficiency,” said Stefan G. Tullius, MD, PhD, BWH Chief of Transplant Surgery and Director of Transplantation Surgery Research.
The study is currently being developed further, as researchers seek to better understand the clinical potential of NAD+.

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