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Andalusian researchers describe the potential of a molecule as a drug for type 1 diabetes

May 29, 2022
Andalusian researchers describe the potential of a molecule as a drug for type 1 diabetes

Researchers from the ‘Fundación Progreso y Salud’ (Progress and Health Foundation) have published in the journal iScience their latest findings on the potential of the molecule BL001 – discovered and patented by themselves – as a possible therapy for type 1 diabetes, a disease for which there is currently no cure.

The research group, led by Benoit Gauthier, has been working at Cabimer for more than a decade on a therapeutic alternative for type 1 diabetes. As a result of their research, they have discovered the molecule BL001, which has been tested in animal models and has shown great potential for the treatment of the disease.

They found that BL001 promotes an anti-inflammatory environment and also improves the viability of insulin-producing beta cells against the immune system. In the current study, the group has tried to determine how the molecule protects insulin-producing cells against inflammatory stress.

Gauthier explains that this process takes place through “specific activation of the LRH-1/NR5A2 target, a cellular pathway that, interestingly, has historically been associated with inflammation”. However, the authors of this scientific publication describe that “the BL001 molecule redirects this pathway towards an anti-inflammatory and pro-survival function by protecting insulin-producing beta cells against stress-induced death,” Gauthier explains.

The next step in this research is now to determine whether the anti-inflammatory effects of the compound observed in experimental and cellular models are also replicated in blood samples from both people with type 1 diabetes and healthy individuals. Preliminary results suggest that human immune cells do indeed respond favourably to treatment.

Professionals from other centres linked to the Andalusian public health system are also participating in this line of research, such as María Asunción Martínez Brocca, head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit at the Virgen Macarena University Hospital in Seville and director of the Andalusian Diabetes Plan; María Isabel García Sánchez, from the Seville Provincial Node of the Andalusian Public Health System Biobank; and Manuel Aguilar Diosdado, head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit at the Puerta del Mar Hospital in Cádiz and scientific director of the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation of Cádiz, Inibica.

The research carried out has the support of different institutions such as the Department of Health and Families of the Government of Andalusia; the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), a pioneering non-profit foundation worldwide, and the DiabetesCERO Foundation, mainly made up of parents of children with type 1 diabetes and with a presence in 15 locations throughout Spain.

Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood and it is estimated that between 5 and 10% of people with diabetes suffer from it.