Why does insulin trigger diabetes and what is the role of T regulatory cells?

Poltreg S.A. took a part in the resrearch just published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and & Care. The work is a collaborative study of the medical universities from Gdańsk, Łódź, Katowice, University of Gdańsk, Regional Blood Bank and Poltreg S.A. in which the scientists proved that insulin is not only the hormone but also a dominant autoantigen involved in the development of type 1 diabetes

The links between insulin and the development of type 1 diabetes are known but the current work explains how insulin antigens trigger the progression of disease. Namely, the fragments of proinsulin sensitize and activate the immune system, which starts pathologic response against pancreatic islets secreting the hormone.

Why does not everybody develop the diabetes? It is because antigen-specific T regulatory cells, which are able to stop the activation of the immune system in the majority of people. The number of these cells is extremely low (below 0,01% in the peripheral blood) and only the recent laboratory tools used in the presented work were able to detect them.

The results of the work allowed the scientists from Poltreg S.A. and Medical University of Gdańsk to create the next generation of cellular drug which will be able to stop the activity of the immune system against insulin fragments and pancreatic islets.

Full text of the paper is available at:


The work was supported by the grants LIDER/160/L-6/14/NCBR/2015, STRATEGMED1/233368/1/NCBR/2014 and POIR.01.01.01-00-0769/15-03 from National Centre for Research and Development.