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Published: 2016-09-28

Allergy antibodies a target for potential treatment to delay diabetes progression

NEWS Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice that develop diabetes have naturally much higher amounts of IgE, an antibody associated with allergies, on their B cells, as well as other antibodies that B cells produce after vaccination in their serum. According to a doctoral dissertation from Umeå University, treatment of young NOD mice with an antibody that targets IgE reduced diabetes incidence and delayed disease progression.

After treating pre-diabetic NOD mice with anti-IgE antibodies, Radha Thyagarajan observed a delay in diabetes development in these mice. Other factors that contribute to the disease have also been covered in the thesis and include alterations in B cell surface molecules that cause them to produce excess amounts of antibodies.

Radha Thyagarajan

“In humans, IgE is usually found in allergic individuals although some previous studies have shown that elevated levels of IgE in autoimmune diseases lead to worse disease prognosis,” says Radha Thyagarajan, doctoral student at the Department of Clinical Microbiology and dissertation author.

“Understanding defects of the immune system that lead to the development of type 1 diabetes is a useful tool to develop cure for the disease. Our findings suggest that IgE plays a role not just in allergy but potentially also in the progression of Type 1 Diabetes.”

Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease that affects 1 out of every 2,500 individuals in Sweden, is caused by the person’s own immune cells attacking the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Since it is difficult to study disease development in humans directly, researchers use a laboratory mouse strain called the NOD (Non-Obese Diabetic) mouse. The NOD mouse develops the disease similarly to humans, which allows researchers to study the immune system responses that are similar to humans.

Radha Thyagarajan is from India. She has a background in Biotechnology (Bangalore University) and Molecular Biology (Umeå University), and currently works in the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Umeå University.

Read a digital publication of the dissertation

About the public dissertation defense:

On Friday, September 30, Radha Thyagarajan, Department of Clinical Microbiology, will publicly defending her dissertation with the title; Anomalies in humoral immunity in the NOD mouse - contribution to the progression of Type 1 Diabetes. Faculty opponent: Professor Susanna Cardell, Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Sahlgrenska academy at Gothenburg University. Principal supervisor: Associate professor Kristina Lejon.
The public dissertation defense will be at 9:00 am in R0 Hall A5, Biomedicinhuset 6A–L, University Hospital of Umeå.

For more information, please contact:

Radha Thyagarajan, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Immunology Unit, Umeå University
+46 90 785 26 67; radha.thyagarajan@umu.se

Editor: Daniel Harju