Drug preserves beta cells in new cases of type 1 diabetes

by Helen Dodson
Drug preserves beta cells in new cases of type 1 diabetes
Credit: Shutterstock

(Medical Xpress)—A drug in clinical trials has been shown to preserve insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in nearly half of subjects newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Results of the phase 2 trials are published in the journal Diabetes.

In , a malfunction in the immune system's kills off the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Trials of therapies to moderate this autoimmune destruction in new-onset type 1 diabetes (T1D) have shown success, but not everyone responds, and the response duration has been limited. The reasons why some patients respond better than others, and why earlier have not induced lasting remissions of the disease, have not been known.

Previous studies have shown that a single course of the anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody drug Teplizumab, given soon after diagnosis, improved beta cell responses for a year, but the responses waned after that. In these new trials, the team sought to determine whether two courses of the drug, one year apart, would have a better response. The team also hoped to identify the characteristics of patients who responded best. Teplizumab was originally produced by Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone of the University of California-San Francisco.

In these randomized, controlled trials, the team treated 52 patients with teplizumab for two weeks after diagnosis, and again after one year.

The results were impressive, report the researchers. Teplizumab treatment significantly reduced the loss of after two years; in fact, the level at year two was, on average, 75% higher in the teplizumab arm of the trial than in the control group.

"There's a sub-group of people, 45%, that had a terrific response to the drug. In these patients, there was a three-fold improvement in their insulin responses compared to untreated participants," said lead investigator Kevan Herold, professor of immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, director of the Yale Autoimmunity Center of Excellence (one of just nine centers of its kind in the country), and deputy director for translational science at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. "After two years, they'd lost less than 10 percent of their beta ."

Herold and team also studied who responded best among the group of patients. "Responders tended to be those who needed less insulin when they first got into trial, and had better control of their blood sugar levels," he said.

Herold and his colleagues are hoping to soon start a phase 3 trial that could lead to FDA approval of the drug, but not just for newly diagnosed T1D patients. Herold is also principal investigator of a diabetes prevention trial at Yale, to determine whether the same drug can stop the disease in people are at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

"If approved," he said, "this would be the first to change the natural course of type 1 diabetes since insulin."

More information: diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/… 3-0345.full.pdf+html

Related Stories

Could dietary tweaks ease type 1 diabetes?

Aug 02, 2013

(HealthDay)—Eating foods that contain certain nutrients may help people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes continue producing some insulin for as long as two years, a new study finds.

Recommended for you

Magnesium cuts diabetes risk

Oct 20, 2014

Getting enough magnesium in the diet may reduce the risk of diabetes, especially for those who already show signs of heading that way.

Personalised treatment for stress-related diabetes

Oct 14, 2014

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden are testing a treatment for type 2 diabetes which targets the disease mechanism itself - and not just the symptoms. For the first time, knowledge about the individual patient's genetic ...

Sensors to simplify diabetes management

Oct 13, 2014

For many patients diagnosed with diabetes, treating the disease can mean a burdensome and uncomfortable lifelong routine of monitoring blood sugar levels and injecting the insulin that their bodies don't ...

User comments