June 20, 2019
The investigational drug 2DG, tested as a cancer treatment, shows promise for lupus in new results reported by researchers from Japan at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) 2019 annual meeting.
Previous research had shown that the a potential drug, 2DG, increases the numbers of regulatory T cells, which turn down the immune system and may reduce lupus symptoms. In lupus, immune system cells that normally provide protection against infections become harmful and destroy patients’ own cells. Immune cells called T helper type 1 (Th1) cells that promote immune responses – help stimulate these attacks. In contrast, regulatory T cells are beneficial and curb the attacks.
Th1 cells obtain much of energy they need from breaking down sugar. The new study tested whether the drug 2DG, which blocks cells from breaking down sugar, had an effect on the cells. When the researchers gave 2DG to immune cells, they found that it increased the number of regulatory T cells and reduced the number of Th1 cells.
Their discovery suggests that drugs that affect the metabolism of immune cells might be a way to treat lupus.