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APPROVED THERAPY TESTED ON AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES



















Laboratory tests of an approved therapeutic suggest it may treat symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

These diseases occur when a group of immune cells called pro-inflammatory T-effector cells become sensitized to specific cells in the body, identifying them as foreign and attacking them as if they were invading bacteria.

This “friendly fire” goes unchecked due to the failing of another type of immune cell: called the T-reg, which controls T-effector cells, shutting them down when they are not needed.

In laboratory work researchers created conditions that mimic type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. They found that administering a molecule called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) induced the production of T-reg cells, which in turn suppressed symptoms.

The research confirms that IGF-1 acts directly on T-reg cells—rather than indirectly by affecting some other factor that induces T-reg cells to multiply.

Lead author Nadia Rosenthal, a professor at Monash University and scientific head of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), says the findings, published this week in EMBO Molecular Medicine, have clinical significance.

“IGF-1 is already an approved therapeutic and has been tested in many different settings. That means it will be much easier to start clinical trials for IGF-1 in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases than it would if we were proposing a new, untested drug,” Rosenthal says.

In a separate study published earlier this year, Rosenthal and Daniel Bilbao at EMBL in found that IGF-1 also suppresses allergic contact dermatitis, an inflammatory skin disease.

Rosenthal plans to explore the role of IGF-1 in inflammation and regeneration, and its potential for treating conditions such as muscular atrophy, fibrosis, and heart disease.


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