Immunotherapy Safe for Type 1 Diabetes

Study finds immunotherapy may prevent Type 1 diabetes

If effective, it could free people with type 1 diabetes from having to closely monitor their blood sugar levels and inject insulin, although they would need to take immunosuppressive drugs to stop their bodies from destroying the new cells.

Speaking on the topic, Dr. Peakman said, "Type 1 diabetes comes about when the immune system inadvertently and irreparably damages beta cells that make insulin ..."

A form of immunotherapy gaining ground as a way to treat childhood food allergies has shown promise in treating another rising scourge of children and young adults: Type 1 diabetes.

The 19 subjects who got the experimental immunotherapy, however, continued to produce their own insulin.

Professor Mark Peakman, who worked on the study, said: "When someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes they still typically have between 15% and 20% of their beta cells".

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The immunotherapy literally re-educates the body's immune system, and teaches the cells that they should not attack the beta cells.

The report of the early-stage clinical trial, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, offers some preliminary reassurance that immunotherapy could be used safely in this growing population.

"The peptide technology used in our trial is not only appears to be safe for patients at this stage, but it also has a noticeable effect on the immune system". A fragment of the chemical that gives rise to insulin, the peptide (known to chemists by the catchy moniker GSLQPLALEGSLQKRGIV) is called an epitope. Patients were randomized into one of three groups: one group received immunotherapy every two weeks; a second group received immunotherapy every four weeks; and a third group received placebo. Furthermore, the patients demonstrated signs of increased regulatory immune responses, and decreased activation of beta cell-attacking T cells.

Karen Addington, chief executive of type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, added: "Exciting immunotherapy research like this increases the likelihood that one day insulin-producing cells can be protected and preserved". However, the therapy has not been proven safe for type I diabetes, which is also an autoimmune disease, until now. Diagnoses of Type 1 diabetes have escalated at an annual average of 4percent in recent decades.

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