In this health video learn how compounds derived from a shrub, even a sea anemone could help unlock the mystery of autoimmune diseases like diabetes.
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Jennifer Matthews: After 26 years with diabetes, Suzie Won Davidson knows the drill. And at 36 she's no longer the child who once dreamed of a cure. Suzie Won Davidson: We'll find the cure about five years. Give us five years. So, every five years, another five years would go by and I'd say, 'Well, there's not a cure yet. Jennifer Matthews: Not yet, but Suzie finds renewed hope in a lab at the University of California, Irvine. In tests on human blood cells, researchers blocked destructive cells responsible for juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, actually stopping the disease in rats. Their weapons? Modified compounds from sea anemone venom, and a compound from this shrub. Christine Beeton: At this stage we don't know if it would be a long term treatment, or if treatment for a period of time would completely suppress a disease and prevent it from coming back. Jennifer Matthews: In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's own tissue. The attacking cells need ion channels to function. But using compounds from a rue plant, and a sea anemone, researchers blocked those channels without blocking cells needed to fight infection. Suzie Won Davidson: It gives us more clues. It's sort of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, where the more pieces you can fill in, the easier it is to fill in the rest of the puzzle. Jennifer Matthews: A puzzle that could lead to clinical trials, perhaps a new treatment in the years ahead. Suzie has heard that promise before, but this time she's old enough to help make it happen. Suzie Won Davidson: So, we are trying funds for UC Irvine's Center For Diabetes Research and Treatment. Jennifer Matthews: And hopefully in her lifetime it will became medicine's next big thing. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.