ARTICLE | Tools & Techniques

Giving beta cells a chance

April 10, 2006 7:00 AM UTC

Researchers have shown that subcutaneous injections of modified autologous dendritic cells reversed Type I diabetes in mice. To do this, they treated the dendritic cells ex vivo with a mixture of antisense oligonucleotides that stopped production of the signaling glycoproteins CD40, CD80 and CD86. Now the same group of researchers is planning a Phase I trial to apply the technique in humans.

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease that results from T cells erroneously attacking insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. CD40, CD80 and CD86 are single chain type 1 glycoproteins that protrude from the cell walls of dendritic cells. All three molecules can bind to various proteins expressed on T cells and each has been shown to be important for mediating T cell responses. Indeed, CD40, CD80 and CD86 are needed to activate T cells against beta cells, according to Massimo Trucco, Hillman professor of pediatric immunology at Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine...