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A New Hope Against Type I Diabetes: The T cells that Attack the Beta Cells in the Pancreas Have Been Found

May 16, 2016 1:00:15 PM / by Dalia Gaddis

T cellsA long-awaited discovery leads researchers to find the pathogenic T cells that recognize and destroy pancreatic beta cells.

When it comes to autoimmune diseases, the patient’s main problem lies within. In such diseases, the immune system’s T cells go rogue and start attacking different organs, resulting in disease. Scientists are constantly trying to discover the identity of the autoimmune T cells as this may be the first step in a preventative therapy.

 For Type I diabetics, constant glucose monitoring and insulin injections are a must. But a new hope is on its way, as researchers discover the identity of the T cell that attacks the pancreas. Image Credit: 

Type I Diabetes (T1D) occurs when T cells attack the insulin secreting beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in the inability to regulate glucose consumption and storage. T1D is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Treatment relies so far on continuous insulin injections and blood glucose monitoring. For younger kids, this treatment is a lot harder to manage and requires constant monitoring. It is estimated that there are 80 people diagnosed with T1D each day in the U.S. Although insulin injections keep the individuals alive, it does not protect against the damage that is done to the kidneys, nerves and heart.1

In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found what the pathogenic T cells interact with in the pancreas beta cells. Following a set of biochemical and mass spectroscopy analysis, the researchers discovered a set of T cells that recognize an epitope formed between the cross-linking of the pro-insulin peptide and other peptides found in the beta cells' secretory granules. These hybrid insulin peptides, which they called HIPs, are antigenic and stimulate CD4 T cells. In addition, the researchers found that CD4 T cells isolated from patients with T1D can recognize these HIPs, suggesting the relevance of the these peptides in human disease.2

We at HemaCare are very excited about these novel findings. We hope that by identifying the T cell subsets and peptides that are responsible for T1D, new interventions can be applied to prevent T1D before it is too late. We supply scientists with human CD4 T cells to meet their research needs. Call us at (877) 397-3087 if you have any questions or would like to place an order.



2 Delong T. et al., 2016. Pathogenic CD4 T cells in type 1 diabetes recognize epitopes formed by peptide fusion. Science 351(6274):711-4. doi: 10.1126/science.aad2791.

Topics: Autoimmune Disorders, T Cells, Blood Disorders, Metabolic Disorders

Dalia Gaddis

Written by Dalia Gaddis

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