New Treatment May Slow Type 1 Diabetes
Immune Therapy May Reduce Reliance on Insulin
June 22, 2005 -- An experimental treatment that targets immune system cells
may slow the progression of type 1 diabetes.
Researchers found six consecutive days of treatment with an antibody called
ChAglyCD3 preserved insulin-making cells. The study participants reduced their
need for insulin injections up to 1.5 years later.
In type 1 diabetes, insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas (beta cells) are
progressively destroyed by the immune system. A loss of insulin-secreting beta
cells causes people to rely more heavily on insulin injections to keep their
blood-sugar levels under control.
Researchers show that treatment with the ChAglyCD3 antibody -- which targets
immune system cells -- may slow the progression of the disease. Treatment given
shortly after diagnosing type 1 diabetes prevented further loss of
insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas.
However, these results are only preliminary and the benefits of the
experimental treatment were not without risk. The side effects of the treatment
included a flu-like illness and mononucleosis symptoms, such as sore throat,
fever, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Further study will be needed before the treatment can be considered for
approval by the FDA for widespread use.
Antibody Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes?
In the study, 80 people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were
assigned to receive six consecutive days of an intravenous treatment with the
antibody or a placebo. The participants were then followed for 1.5 years. Their
daily insulin needs and pancreatic function were measured during follow-up.
In the study, those who received the placebo showed a progressive increase
in their insulin dose. However, those taking the experimental treatment did
The beneficial effects of the antibody treatment were greatest among
patients who had more insulin-secreting beta cell function at the start of the
study. Among this group, the average daily insulin dose 1.5 years after
treatment was minimal compared with those who received the placebo.
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Ake Lernmark, DrMed, of the
University of Washington, says if this type of antibody treatment can be proven
safe, their use in combination with other treatments may lead to better
therapies for type 1 diabetes.