Mice study proves `inexpensive` drug prevents diabetes

Washington: In a new study, scientists have unveiled a new inexpensive drug which prevents type 1 diabetes in mice.

The buildup of a substance in the pancreas during the pre-symptomatic stage of Type 1 diabetes is essential to the development of the disease, Stanford University researchers used a drug to block production of this substance in mouse models, staving off damage to insulin-producing cells and preventing the onset of the autoimmune disorder.

According to the researchers, it might be possible to prevent the onset of Type 1 diabetes in humans if a similar treatment is initiated before the insulin-producing cells, or beta cells, are attacked by misguided immune cells.

Author Paul Bollyky said that the study was the first to link the progression of Type 1 diabetes to changes in the architecture of the extracellular matrix, and added that in type 1 diabetes, only the beta cells got destroyed.

Bollyky said that the drug was hymecromone, or 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU), which is prescribed in many European and Asian countries for painful, gallstone-associated spasms and sold by about 60 companies worldwide for research purposes.

He added that the drug is inexpensive, could be given orally and, over four decades of use.

In the study, when the researchers initiated 4-MU treatment before the majority of the mice’s beta cells had been wiped out, none of the mice developed hyperglycemia. Mice that didn’t get 4-MU did. If mice stayed on a 4-MU regimen, they remained diabetes-free for at least a year. But if the regimen was stopped, they quickly became diabetic.

The scientists found reduced hyaluronan levels in 4-MU-treated mice’s pancreatic islets, indicating that the drug was performing as expected.

Bollyky said that no drug had previously been shown to do this in humans. (ANI)