According to the researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology a combination treatment in mice is found to be very effective against Type 1 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes, accounts for up to 10 % of the 18 million cases of diabetes in the United States. Type 1 diabetes appears most often in childhood or adolescence stage.
It occurs when the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin is needed to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that allows sugar to enter cells and be converted to energy. Without insulin, sugar and fats remain in the bloodstream and eventually damage the body's organs. Heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and the need for amputations are a few of diabetes' complications. On the other hand Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and physical inactivity. It usually affects people older than 40 years of age. It is characterized by the body's inability to produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin it produces.
Scientists at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology said human trials using the new technique would begin late this year. The results of the findings were published in the online Journal of Clinical Investigation. The researchers injected antibodies called anti-CD3 into the mice to prevent the immune system's attack on insulin-producing beta cells in the animals' pancreas. In addition to this small chain molecules called nasal proinsulin peptides were also injected. This acts like a vaccine thereby triggering the production of a cell that specifically protects beta cells. A team led by Matthias von Herrath was able to stop the immune systems in most of the mice from destroying their own beta cells by using the combination of both these methods.
Von Herrath said that the mice did not have diabetes, again during their lifespan. Dr. Richard A. Insel, executive vice president for research at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International in New York City said that this finding contributed in a very important way. The rodents also experienced fewer side effects. Scientists have previously tested anti-CD3 antibodies and nasal proinsulin peptides separately in human clinical trials. They have never used the two therapies together. A couple of clinical trials in humans have shown that anti-CD3 antibodies alone reverse the recent onset of Type 1 diabetes, but only for about a year.
Von Herrath said that human clinical trials for the combination treatment still require regulatory approval. He and his colleagues are pursuing funding for the trials from the Diabetes Vaccine Development Centre in Australia and the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. The trials would be directed at people recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, or who are being treated as pre-diabetic. Mitchell Kronenberg, president and scientific director of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology said that the new treatment would replace the daily insulin injections and prevent the long-term detrimental effects of diabetes.