University of Queensland researchers have found that the key to preventing Type 1 diabetes could be found in a person's gut.
In the study, lead researcher Dr Emma Hamilton-Williams investigated differences in gut microbiota, and specifically compared those susceptible to Type 1 diabetes with those immune to the disease.
Hamilton-Williams found that immunotherapy on T-cells associated with Type 1 diabetes led to "drastic changes" in the gut and altered the microbiotica found there.
“This research has shown there is a genetic component to microbiota and the immune response involved in regulating it,” she said.
“This means that changes in the microbiota in type 1 diabetes occur before symptoms develop, and are not just a side-effect of the disease.
“Therapies targeting the microbiota could therefore have the potential to help prevent type 1 diabetes in the future.”
As mice models were used for the study, Hamilton-Williams said the next step would be to examine clinical trials of immunotherapies on people.
She said scientists could then create treatments directly aimed at restoring the gut microbiota to a healthy state and develop better treatments for Type 1 diabetes.
“We showed that genetic susceptibility and change in immune system function led to alterations in the microbiota,” she said.
“The implications are that a person’s genetics contribute to an unhealthy microbiota as well as their diet.”
The research has been published in the journal, Microbiome.
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