Mercoledì, 26 Giugno 2019
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ROME

Possible cause of juvenile diabetes found in Italy

English
© ANSA

Rome, October 28 - Italian scientists have
discovered a possible cause of juvenile diabetes (type 1), a way
to screen newborns at risk, and a promising experimental therapy
to try to prevent its onset, researchers announced on Monday.
Type 1 diabetes may be caused by the absence of a family of
molecules called the carnitines, which eliminate autoreactive
immune system cells that provoke the disease, according to
findings published in Nutrition and Diabetes, a magazine edited
by Nature.
Innovative blood-screening for newborns, conducted by Dr.
Giancarlo La Marca at the Meyer Pediatric Hospital in Florence,
has enabled a team of researchers there with the collaboration
of Bambino Gesu' (Baby Jesus) hospital in Rome to probe the
correlation between carnitine count and the onset of the
disease.
Research was coordinated by professor Gian Franco Bottazzo,
ex-scientific director at Bambino Gesu', who in 1974 was the
first researcher to recognize that type 1 diabetes was an
autoimmune disorder.
Immune system cells turn on the host to destroy the
pancreatic cells that produce insulin, a hormone that is central
to regulating the metabolism of fat and carbohydrate in the
body.
Because ''Giancarlo La Marca carried out in his laboratory
a particular, expanded neonatal screening - unique in Italy -
for diagnosing metabolic disorders, we have discovered that
newborns with low concentrations of carnitines in the blood
develop the disease later,'' Bottazzo told ANSA in an interview.
''Low levels of carnitines at birth could predispose
(newborns) to type 1 diabetes as the carnitines serve to
eliminate autoreactive immune cells normally present in the
thymus (gland) of newborns. If the death of (the autoreactive
immune cells) does not happen extremely early on, these cells
enter into the circulatory system, nestle in the lymph nodes
and, if activated, cause diabetes,'' said Bottazzo.
The researchers hope to now conduct a clinical experiment
in which newborns with low carnitine counts receive supplement
of the helpful molecules to suckle during the first days of life
to see if the onset of the disease can be prevented.
''It is the first time a market for diabetes I has been
found at birth,'' Bottazzo concluded.
Bottazzo added that a hereditary component has been found
in type 1 diabetes.
DNA markers HLADR3 and HLADR4 in children have been
correlated with elevated risk for the disease.
''More than 90% of type I diabetics carry these genes,''
explained Bottazzo.

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