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Harnessing the power of the bruise to prevent autoimmune diabetes

September 2, 2015

When that bruise on your leg turns purple, green and yellow, you can thank heme oxygenase I (HO-1), the key enzyme in a pathway that breaks down the red compound in blood (called heme) and turns it into several other coloured compounds. Although it may look ugly, bruising is very important for wound healing.

Now, new research from Dr. Fraser Scott’s group suggests this same pathway could also help prevent and treat autoimmune diabetes. They treated diabetes-prone rats with a compound that induces HO-1 (called CoPP) and found that the incidence of diabetes was cut by more than half. The treatment resulted in a major accumulation of anti-inflammatory immune cells in the pancreas (the key organ involved in diabetes) and there were signs of regeneration of insulin-producing cells.

Although CoPP is not suitable for human use, another compound that induces HO-1 is suitable, so a clinical trial of this approach might be feasible in the near future.

See Endocrinology for details.

Co-authors: Mahmoud Husseini, Gen-Sheng Wang, Christopher Patrick, Jennifer A. Crookshank, Amanda J. MacFarlane, J. Ariana Noel, Alexander Strom.

Funders: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Diabetes Association, Cure Diabetes (Ottawa), The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

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