Researchers at the University of Toledo have found a new way to replicate in lab mice the development and progression of type 1 diabetes, a breakthrough that has the potential to reshape how chronic disease is studied.
1.25 Americans have type 1 diabetes
An estimated 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. While the condition can be managed with insulin, finding a treatment or cure for the disease has been elusive, in part because scientists have not had a reliable animal model that mimics the full scope of human type 1 diabetes.
They see those patients every day. When they come to the hospital, the doctors see how they struggle. Unfortunately, research has been inhibited because the scientific community didn’t have a good model to study the disease and its progression. Now they do. They have developed a mouse model that is a step forward to finding a cure.
The first peer-reviewed study using mice
The first peer-reviewed study using UT-developed mouse model. In that study, they investigated the influence of a certain protein to T-cells in the pancreas in delaying the onset of diabetes. While the study adds to the overall knowledge of diabetes, it is the mouse model that holds the real potential.
In the new model, mice spontaneously develop type 1 diabetes and importantly, the full range of complications experienced by diabetic patients. That allows the study of the disease and its natural progression in a way previously possible. The model is showing exactly the same physiopathology that humans with diabetes suffer. The mice are getting eye problems, kidney problems, and neuropathy. That’s a very important part of this, they are having the same problem that humans are having with diabetes, not just those with type 1. Type 2 diabetics have that problem as well.
The laboratory mice were developed through a series of selective breeding experiments and genetic modification that includes adding human genes to the mice. A provisional patent on the Spontaneous type 1 Diabetes Mouse Model was filed last year. Type 1 diabetes is formerly known as juvenile diabetes, results from an autoimmune attack on the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin in the body, it cannot process the sugars in food, leading to dangerously high blood sugar.
Many species develop diabetes
Though many species develop diabetes. The process of type 1 diabetes seems to be unique to humans. While scientists have frequently used other specially bred mice, including what are known as non-obese diabetic mice, those lab animals don’t mimic the exact human pathophysiology of the disease are not useful for investigating treatments or symptoms.
The non-obese diabetic mouse model does not completely resemble the human condition. They are more than 125 different therapies that cure type 1 diabetes in non-obese mice. Clinical trials were developed because of that model, but none have worked in humans. Everybody has been searching for a better model.
Using the same idea behind CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, in which the immune system cells are taken from the patient and paired with an artificial receptor that once reintroduced into the body homes in on the tumor, the team is developing cellular therapies for diabetes that uses the mice’s regulatory cells to cool down the immune response.
The University has filed a provisional patent on a treatment method, and will soon begin a more in-depth study of its effectiveness.
This is something interesting about type 1 diabetes. We have a research center not too far from here.