Drug preserves beta cells in new cases of type 1 diabetes

August 6, 2013 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."

Explore further: Immune intervention reduces beta-cell death in type 1 diabetes

More information: diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/25/db13-0345.full.pdf+html

Related Stories

Could dietary tweaks ease type 1 diabetes?

August 2, 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.

Adult stem cells could hold key to curing Type 1 diabetes

May 29, 2013

Millions of people with type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin injections to survive. They would die without the shots because their immune system attacks the very insulin-producing cells it was designed to protect. Now, ...

Recommended for you

How does friendly fire happen in the pancreas?

October 21, 2016

In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München, partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research, and their colleagues at Technical University of Munich have ...

Diabetes opens floodgates to fructose

October 11, 2016

Fructose, once seen as diabetics' alternative to glucose, is fast-tracked to the liver in diabetic mice and contributes to metabolic diseases, according to new research from Harvard University.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity—what do we really know?

October 6, 2016

Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world. In a review in Science, Mark McCarthy, professor at the University of Oxford, UK, and Paul Franks, professor at Lund ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.