Blood levels of four proteins that can protect against immune system attack are significantly reduced in people with type 1 diabetes, a new study finds.
This research was conducted by the Medical College of Georgia, who examined blood samples from 697 children with type 1 diabetes, and 681 individuals showing no signs of type 1 diabetes.
These samples were compared to a larger group, including 1,553 children with type 1 and 1,493 individuals without any sign of antibodies, making it the largest study of its kind.
Those with type 1 diabetes had significantly lower levels of four proteins: IL8, IL-1Ra, MCP-1 and MIP-1beta. The researchers reported that low levels of MIP-1β were found to protect against the development of type 1 in animal models, while IL-1Ra is being investigated for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Individuals who had high-risk genes for type 1 diabetes, but also high levels of the four proteins were less likely to have type 1. Dr. Jin-Xiong She, professor at the Medical College of Georgia, and her team concluded that these proteins could provide protection against type 1 even in a genetically high-risk group.
Healthy individuals without any risky genes have higher levels of the proteins, and the researchers believe chemokines and cytokines such as MIP-1beta can keep inflammation at bay, protecting tissue from immune system attack, which characterises type 1 diabetes.
Their target is to develop a treatment to help at-risk children avoid type 1 diabetes, as well as aiding in the management of the disease.
Dr. Ashok Sharma, study author and MCG bioinformatics expert, said: “If the individuals with high-risk genes weren’t making more of the proteins, they likely would have diabetes.
“We are providing evidence that clinical trials with any of these four molecules may work, and if we use them in combination, they may work even better.
“One of the major research foci in our group is to identify biomarkers for various diseases, diabetes, cancer and others. We also want to identify new therapeutic strategies or targets through the discovery of biomarkers.”
The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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