A research study funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) suggests that a common intestinal bacteria may provide some protection from developing Type 1 diabetes. The findings provide an important step towards understanding how and why Type 1 diabetes develops in people, and may lead to potential cures.
The study, reported this week in the journal Nature, lends further support to the "hygiene hypothesis," that exposure to an appropriate amount and composition of bacteria may be important to living a healthy life, and that susceptibility to Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders may actually be caused by a lack of exposure to certain parasites and microbes.
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"This study outcome gives us a new avenue to explore," said JDRF executive vice president of research Richard A. Insel, MD. "And, with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. and many countries around the world at about a 3 percent annual rate, every lead is significant. The research gives impetus to better understanding how the bacterial flora in our body influences host immune defenses and responses that provide resistance to the development of Type 1 diabetes. This understanding may provide new therapeutic approaches to prevention."
For the study, teams led by Li Wen at Yale and Alexander V. Chervonsky at the University of Chicago used mice that under normal conditions, would not develop diabetes. If raised in a germ-free environment, however, the mice developed diabetes. But mice that were exposed to common intestinal bacteria maintained a lower risk for the disease.
Source: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation