University of Florida researchers say experimental lupus treatment shows early promise
A key finding of the study involved the researchers characterizing the way specialized white blood cells known as CD4 T-cells use nutrients. In lupus, these cells used mostly glucose, a type of simple sugar, for energy metabolism. This seems to be critical in causing inflammation in the immune system and the tissue destruction that result from the disease. When the researchers blocked glucose metabolism by using the common type 2 diabetes drug metformin and a glucose inhibitor, the CD4 T-cells returned to normal activity and the symptoms of lupus were reversed.
The research team initially got the idea of using a two-pronged attack on lupus after seeing a similar approach succeed incancer research, said Laurence Morel, Ph.D, director of experimental pathology and a professor of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine in the UF College of Medicine.
“If it works to limit metabolism of cancer cells, it should work to limit metabolism in T-cells,” Dr. Morel said.