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Researchers at London's Royal Free
Hospital have found the immune
system cell responsible for triggering
the destruction of insulin-producing cells
in Type 1 diabetes. Their finding could
lead to new treatments that target this
triggering process, potentially offering a
way to cure or even prevent the condition.
Type 1 occurs when the body's own
immune system, which is meant to fight
off diseases, attacks the cells in the
pancreas that make insulin. Previous
research has found that T cells, part of the
immune system, are behind the attack,
but this is the first time researchers
have identified the specific kind of T cell
The London team, led by Professor
Lucy Walker, studied T cells from people
CELL BEHIND T1 DIABETES DISCOVERED
with and people without Type 1. They
found that samples from people with
type 1 contained much higher levels of
molecules associated with a kind of T cell
known as a 'follicular helper T cell'.
These cells have previously been
implicated in other autoimmune conditions
such as lupus, but this is the first time they
have been identified as being behind the
autoimmune attack in Type 1.
"Knowing more about the type of T
cell that causes type 1 is definitely good
news for future treatments" said Professor
Walker. "It provides us with a new way of
thinking about the cells that are causing
the problem, and may allow us to develop
different ways of interfering with them."
The study was published in the
Journal of Clinical Investigation.