NORFOLK, Va., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Scientists at Eastern Virginia Medical School say targeting an enzyme known as 12-LO may be the key to reversing Type 1 diabetes.
"We've now confirmed that 12-LO is a relevant target in humans, particularly in the pancreas, and will help lead to new therapies," said Dr. Kaiwen Ma, a researcher in the school's Strelitz Diabetes Center.
Twelve-Lo, or 12-lipoxygenase, is a protein-based enzyme found in insulin-producing beta cells. When beta cells die, the body no longer produces enough insulin to regulate blood-sugar levels.
Twelve-Lo, in studies in mice and human tissue cultures, has been shown to inflame beta cells and lead to their death, Ma and his associates said in the February Journal of Clinical Endocrinology.
Ma and his associates are teaming with researchers at the National Institutes of Health to develop a drug that targets 12-LO, halts damage to human insulin-producing cells and encourages cell regeneration, the school said in a release.