Leukemia Drugs Cure Mouse Diabetes

Common cancer treatment sent disease into rapid remission
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2008 5:37 AM CST
Leukemia drugs Gleevec and Sutent sent 80% of mice with Type 1 diabetes into remission.   (©ReneS)
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(Newser) – Two common leukemia drugs prevented or halted mouse diabetes in a new study, Reuters reports. The drugs prevented mice predisposed to Type 1 diabetes from developing the disease, and sent 80% of mice who already had it into remission within weeks. Scientists say the mice maintained normal blood sugar levels even after treatment finished, suggesting the drugs may have somehow reprogrammed their immune systems.

The drugs appeared to defeat the autoimmune disease by blocking a receptor not previously linked to diabetes. The findings could offer hope to the estimated 1 million to 2 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes and sufferers of other autoimmune diseases if the results can be replicated in humans—always a big if, warned the authors of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.