Results from a experimental therapy for Type 1 diabetes that boosts parts of the healthy immune system are reported today in the scientific journal 'Diabetes'.
The trial was led by Carla Greenbaum, MD, Diabetes Research Program director at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), and sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), a clinical trial network funded by the National Institutes of Health. The trial took a unique two-pronged approach to treating Type 1diabetes in newly diagnosed participants. Two drugs were administered in combination. One drug interferes with the immune response that causes Type 1 diabetes while a second drug simultaneously boosted the part of the immune response that usually regulates overactive immune cells.
Over 1 million people in the United States have Type 1 diabetes and the incidence is growing. In this disease, the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. However, at the time of diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes, a small number of beta cells may remain active in many individuals. Since even small amounts of natural insulin production can decrease the long-term effects of diabetes, therapies that attempt to rescue these remaining cells are badly needed.
"The clinical and mechanistic findings from this study can help guide future treatments that boost good immunity," says Gerald Nepom, MD, PhD, Director of ITN. "This was an important clinical trial that will improve the design of subsequent trials to rescue beta cells in Type 1 diabetes."