Immunotherapy delays type 1 diabetes, study finds

Author: Jo Carlowe

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Researchers are one step closer to preventing type 1 diabetes, following research into a drug that targets the immune system.

Presented on June 9 at the 2019 American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, findings from TrialNet’s Teplizumab (anti-CD3) Prevention Study show a drug that targets the immune system can delay type 1 diabetes a median of 2 years in children and adults at high risk.

“This is the first study to show any drug can delay type 1 diabetes diagnosis a median of 2 years in people at high risk,” explains TrialNet Teplizumab Prevention Study Chair Kevan Herold. “As anyone with type 1 diabetes will tell you, and particularly for children who are most commonly affected, every day you can delay this disease is important.” Dr Herold is Professor of Immunobiology and Internal Medicine at Yale University.

All study participants were relatives of people with type 1 diabetes who had two or more autoantibodies and abnormal blood sugar levels as identified by TrialNet’s Pathway to Prevention study. These individuals are thought to have a lifetime risk of clinical diagnosis nearing 100%. Of the 76 high risk individuals who participated in the study, 55 were under age 18.

Karen Addington, UK chief executive of type 1 diabetes research charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), said: “Type 1 diabetes can be tough. We want a cure for those already living with type 1. But we also want to prevent this condition ever developing in those at risk. Learning how to delay onset is the first step.”

Importantly, this study highlights that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can be delayed with immune therapy. TrialNet has several other immune therapy trials aiming to delay type 1 diabetes.

Reacting to the findings, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “We’re delighted to see that it is possible to delay a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in some people, through research that tackles the root cause – the immune attack against the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

“This now opens up possibilities for the future, with further research needed to fully understand the effects and for whom treatments like this could benefit.

“But the discovery that this drug could potentially provide some people with extra years free from type 1 diabetes and the harm it causes is a significant moment, and an important step towards a future where we can prevent the condition entirely.”

The Teplizumab Prevention Study was primarily funded by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and JDRF. MacroGenics/Provention Bio donated the study drug and provided funds for additional site monitoring.

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Editorial team, Wilmington Healthcare

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