Monday, November 27, 2006

Another confirmation for Dr. Faustman's Work

New data from a study performed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and funded jointly by the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation, NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research intramural program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Research Chair, and a Hungarian Academy of Science grant published in the Nov. 24, 2006 issue of Science published as a technical comment provides additional confirmation of the a protocol developed at Massachusetts General Hospital by Dr. Denise Faustman showed the ability to reverse type 1 diabetes in the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse AND also confirmed the role of the spleen cells in islet regeneration. The latter was not confirmed in the JDRF-funded replication studies led by Dr. Anita Chong which were published earlier this year.

While I believe the idea of replication of test results in science is critical, we should remember that this was accomplished on the NOD mouse, not humans. The protocol has yet to be proven in human clinical trials, and as many rightly note, few of the many cures for NOD mice ever work in humans, so until the protocol is tested (scheduled for the future, perhaps as soon as 2007), I would encourage my readers not to get too excited. Also, something else to note is the fact that the mice were treated with Fruends complete adjuvant. However, because its use in humans is forbidden (due to its toxicity), the human clinical trials will test using a vaccine called Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (better known by its acronym BCG) instead. BCG is believed to induce the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the body, which destroys the abnormal T-cells which attack the insulin-producing beta cells in people type 1 diabetes. Still, the confirmation is the second round of results published in a major scientific/medical journal to confirm Dr. Faustman's work, which was considered heresy against long-established medical dogma related to type 1 diabetes when it was first published in 2001.

The full text of the article appears below, followed by a link to the scientific journal publication from which the results are reported:

New data from NIH lab confirms protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice

New data published in the Nov. 24 issue of Science provide further support for a protocol to reverse type 1 diabetes in mice and new evidence that adult precursor cells from the spleen can contribute to the regeneration of beta cells.

In 2001 and 2003, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) demonstrated the efficacy of a protocol to reverse of type 1 diabetes in diabetic mice. Three studies from other institutions published in the March 24, 2006 issue of Science confirmed that the MGH-developed protocol can reverse the underlying disease but were inconclusive on the role of spleen cells in the recovery of insulin-producing pancreatic islets. The new data from a study performed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published as a technical comment, provides additional confirmation of the ability to reverse type 1 diabetes and on the role of the spleen cells in islet regeneration.

"This data from the NIH and the earlier studies have added significantly to the understanding of how diabetes may be reversed," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, primary author of the 2001 and 2003 studies and co-corresponding author of the current report. "It is still early, but it appears that there are multiple potential sources for regenerating islets. As a research community we should pursue all avenues. We're excited to see what will happen in humans."

In the 2001 and 2003 studies, Faustman and colleagues treated end-stage nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice with Freund's complete adjuvant, a substance that suppresses the activity of the immune cells that destroy islets in type 1 diabetes. They also introduced donor spleen cells to retrain the immune system not to attack islets and found that the protocol not only halted the immune destruction caused by diabetes but also allowed the insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells to regenerate. Evidence indicated that the spleen cells were the source of at least some of the regenerated islet cell and hastened the restoration of blood sugar levels.

The direct contribution of spleen cells to islet recovery, first described in the 2003 study, is confirmed in the current work. NIH researchers used cell lineage tracking in the form of Y-chromosomal fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), in combination with insulin staining, to follow the fate of male spleen cells transplanted into female recipients. The female mice that received male donor cells consistently showed Y-chromosome-positive insulin-producing islet cells, indicating that the introduced spleen cells contribute to islet recovery. The current study also showed that the degree of spleen cell contribution is influenced by mouse age at the start of treatment. Spleen cells appear to contribute to islet recovery more in mice who are older and with more advanced diabetes compared with younger mice with less advanced diabetes, in which regeneration of remaining islets may be the dominant mechanism.

URL for this news article:

"Comment on Papers by Chong et al., Nishio et al., and Suri et al. on Diabetes Reversal in NOD Mice"; Denise L. Faustman, Simon D. Tran, Shohta Kodama, Beatrijs M. Lodde, Ildiko Szalayova, Sharon Key, Zsuzsanna E. Toth, and Éva Mezey; Science 24 November 2006: 1243.

Full Text:

********** Background Information **********

NPR Interview with Denise Faustman
A very interesting radio interview from NPR with Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory, whose team succeeded in curing autoimmune diabetes in mice.
(Click on Talk of the Nation audio)

Fall 2003, Fall: Tangling with T-Cells, Reversing Diabetes in Mice
Article published in the online publication "Insulin-Free TIMES" in the Fall 2003, written by Karen Jacobi-Fredette.

Fall 2005 Dr. Denise Faustman's Update Newsletter

March 2006 NPR Interview: "Moving a Diabetes Cure from Mice to People"

Article from The New York Times, March 24, 2006:

"A Controversial Therapy for Diabetes Is Verified"

Article from The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2006:
"After Initial Rejection, Scientists Back Work on Cure for Diabetes"

Fall 2006 Dr. Denise Faustman's Update Newsletter


Sarah said...

This is really great info. Thanks!

Scott K. Johnson said...

A positive step in a positive direction!

Thanks for the update!