A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has revealed that a common drug used to treat hypertension is capable of preventing the onset of type 1 diabetes. The drug, methyldopa has been used for treating hypertension among pregnant women and children for many years, and this new study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado has indicated that this drug can be used for treating diabetes as well.
"We can now predict with almost 100 percent accuracy who is likely to get type 1 diabetes. The goal with this drug is to delay or prevent the onset of the disease among those at risk," said Aaron Michels from the University of Colorado, reports Science Daily.
According to researchers, the usage of methyldopa may be very effective in preventing the onset of Type 1 diabetes in up to 60 percent of those at risk. Apart from reducing high blood pressure, methyldopa was found to block a molecule called DQ8 which could prevent the onset of the disease.
"With this drug, we can potentially prevent up to 60 percent of type 1 diabetes in those at risk for the disease. This is a very significant development," said Michels.
The study conducted by the researchers spanned ten years, and the drug's efficacy was shown in mice and 20 type 1 diabetes patients. During the study, researchers used a supercomputer, on the lab bench, in mice and in humans. The researchers noted that methyldopa not only blocked DQ8 molecules but also did not harm the immune function of other cells.
"We took every FDA approved small molecule drug and analyzed HLA-DQ8 binding through a supercomputer. We searched a thousand orientations for each drug to identify those that would fit within the DQ8 molecule binding groove," added Michels.
The next step in this research is a larger clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health which will be kick-started in the coming months.