An Artificial Sweetener Could Cure Autoimmune Diseases That Doesn’t Protect The Body

There are over 100 autoimmune diseases where the in-built defense system accidentally attacks instead of protecting the body.

<p>In this photo illustration, Taylor Jane Stimmler, whose had type 1 diabetes since she was a teenager, displays her insulin and needles used for injection, on March 02, 2023, in New York City. An artificial sweetener could be the cure for autoimmune diseases. SPENCER PLATT/SWNS TALKER</p>

Artificial sweetener Splenda may hold the key to curing type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research by the Journal Nature.

High doses of sucralose, the basis for the popular sweetener, prevented cells from attacking healthy body tissue in mice.

Cubes of sugar around the word diabetes. There are over 100 autoimmune diseases where the in-built defense system accidentally attacks. ARTEM PODREZ/SWNS TALKER

There are over 100 autoimmune diseases where the in-built defense system accidentally attacks instead of protecting the body.

Others include lupus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis.

Senior author Professor Karen Vousden, of the Francis Crick Institute in London, said: “We’re hoping to piece together a bigger picture of the effects of diet on health and disease so one day we can advise on diets best suited to individual patients or find elements doctors can exploit for treatment.

“More research and studies are needed to see whether these effects of sucralose in mice can be reproduced in humans.

“If these initial findings hold up in people, they could one day offer a way to limit some of the harmful effects of autoimmune conditions.”

Sucralose, is used in many processed foods and drinks. It’s calorie-free and 600 times sweeter than sugar.

While generally regarded as safe, some concerns have been raised about long-term consumption disrupting gut bacteria – and even increasing risk of cancer.

Now experiments on lab rodents showed large amounts lowered activation of T-cells that fight disease and infections.

It opens the door to treating patients in whom responses become uncontrolled – sometimes triggering life-threatening conditions.

Co-first author Dr. Fabio Zani, from the same lab, said: “We do not want people to take away the message sucralose is harmful if consumed in the course of a normal balanced diet.

“The doses we used in mice would be very hard to achieve without medical intervention. The impact on the immune system we observed seems reversible.

“We believe it may be worth studying if sucralose could be used to ameliorate conditions such as autoimmunity – especially in combinational therapies.”

Animals were fed levels equivalent to the acceptable daily intake recommended by the European and American food safety authorities.

Relatively similar doses would not be reached by people consuming food or drinks containing sweeteners as part of a normal diet.

The mice were less able to activate T cells in response to cancer or infection. No effect was seen on other types of immune cells.

Further analysis revealed sucralose dampened function by reducing release of calcium due to stimulation.

Prof. Vousden said: “These findings demonstrate high doses of sucralose can alter immune responses in mice.”

It should not sound alarm bells for those wanting to ensure they have a healthy immune system or recover from disease as the quantities were too high.

But the researchers hope the findings could lead to a new way to control the harm caused by over-active immune cells.

Co-first author Dr. Julianna Blagih, now at Montreal University, explained: “We’ve shown a commonly used sweetener, sucralose, is not a completely inert molecule.

“We’ve uncovered an unexpected effect on the immune system. We are keen to explore whether there are other cell types or processes similarly affected by this sweetener.”

Splenda is promoted by U.S. manufacturers Heartland Food Products Group as a healthier alternative to sugar which has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

It was approved in 2000 after the EU’s Scientific Committee on Food declared it is “not harmful to the immune system, does not cause cancer, infertility, pose a risk to pregnancy or affect blood sugar levels.”

Karis Betts, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK which funded the research, said: “This study begins to explore how high doses of sucralose could potentially be used in new treatment options for patients, but it’s still early days.

“The results don’t show harmful effects of sucralose for humans, so you don’t need to think about changing your diet to avoid it.”

The researchers are now planning trials to test if sucralose has a similar effect in humans. 

Produced in association with SWNS Talker