Is it possible to prevent diabetes?

Purusotam Basnet

Diabetes is the third leading cause of human death in the world and the diabetic population is increasing day by day. Diabetes has been known long back in the history but no proper cure is available yet. The report of WHO shows that the population of diabetics was 60 millions in 1980, 118 million in 1995 and there will be 220 million in 2010. More than 10% population of over 40 years is suffering from type II diabetes (NIDDM). Although the number of type I diabetes (IDDM) population is very low in Japan comparing with some European countries, more than 6000 people are suffering from such incurable disease in Japan. Therefore, it is very important to focus on the research to find a cure for such disease, which is not only killing the lives and deteriorating the health but also a huge social and economical burden to the nation. One of the major causes of the diabetes is the gradual destruction of insulin producing b-cells in the pancreas, therefore, one of the strategies of the research is to provide protection to the b-cell or to understand the mechanism how and why insulin-producing b-cells are dying.

In human, GAD-65 and/or IRS are the markers used for the prediction of diabetes. As GAD-65 and/or IRS raise in the blood, the immune cells become aggressive towards the b-cells. Gradually, b-cells are unable to protect themselves from their own immune system. Although the immunogenic cascades have not been fully understood yet, the balance of Th1 and Th2 cells activity is supposed to be the major criteria for the long life of b-cells. The nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice model is the focus for such immune modulating diabetes. It is interesting to know that in the traditional systems of medicine high priority was given to the balance of constituents in the body. Therefore, in aiming the research to prevent or delay diabetes, natural medicines with the following characteristics such as immunomodulating, antiinflammatory, NO modulating and antioxidative activities seem to be an attraction for the researcher.

The role of GAD-65 and IRS for the development of diabetes and the immunization with GAD-65 were studied in NOD mice. The substances such as vitamin E, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, lipoic acid and nicotinamide have been widely studies in this regard. In addition to this, some other substances such as Propolis (a bee product) and Shilajit (a mineral of Himalayas) are also showing very interesting results. The detailed mechanistic discussion of such autoimmune regulating protein cascades and externally administered natural substances will be the focus of the discussion aiming a target as the prevention of insulin-producing b -cells.