A new study has shown that very low doses of a cancer drug protect the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and prevent the development of diabetes mellitus type 1 in mice.
Researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen also found that at the same time, the medicine protects the insulin-producing cells from being destroyed.
"Our research shows that very low doses of anticancer drugs used to treat lymphoma - so-called lysine deacetylase inhibitors - can reset the immune response to not attack the insulin-producing cells," Dan Ploug Christensen said.
"We find fewer immune cells in the pancreas, and more insulin is produced when we give the medicine in the drinking water to mice that would otherwise develop type 1 diabetes," the researcher added.
Ploug Christensen said that the study is a step towards developing a preventive treatment for type 1 diabetes.
It works by blocking the molecules that send the harmful inflammation signals into the insulin-producing cells. In doing so, it prevents the cells from producing a number of factors which contribute to destroying the cells when exposed to inflammation.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).