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Pioneering Immunotherapy Found Safe to Stop Type-1 Diabetes

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Count of people who have diabetes has risen all over the world from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, according to WHO.

Mismanagement of type 1 diabetes increases the risk on critical parts of the body including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.

For the first time, immunotherapy has been found to be safe in stopping type-1 diabetes progression. In many autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, immunotherapy modulate the immune system of the patient to provide relief from the conditions.

Type-1 Diabetes (image credit: Clinical Islet Transplantation (CIT) Consortium, sponsored by National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Similarly, type-1 diabetes is also an autoimmune disorder. The immune system in a body typically attacks harmful pathogens that invade the body and destroy them, but in type-1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin producing beta-cells in the pancreas.

Insulin in the body keeps the blood sugar in control. In type-1 diabetic patients the amount of blood sugar mounds due to lack of insulin. So a regular intake of insulin doses is required.

Despite over 25 years of efforts to develop immunomodulatory therapies for type-1 diabetes treatment, no therapy is present to stop patients’ immune system from progressively destroying insulin-producing beta-cells inside the pancreas.

Peptide Immunotherapy Treats Type-1 Diabetes by Preventing T-Cells from Attacking Insulin Producing β-Cells (Image Credit: Carla Schaffer / M.A. Ali et al., / AAAS)

The novel immunotherapy contains short portions of proinsulin. Proinsulin is developed by beta cells in the pancreas that later converts into insulin. When the immunotherapy is injected into the patient’s bloodstream, they mimic the portion of proinsulin peptide and train the attacking T-cells of the immune system to recognize beta cells of the pancreas as friendly cells and stop the attack.

27 people having type-1 diabetes participated in the clinical study of the therapy who were diagnosed with the condition within 100 days.

In 12 months, patients receiving the immunotherapy remained stable. They did not require regular doses of insulin and showed no sign of progression in beta cell destruction. No adverse events were reported. Patients receiving saline placebo showed about 50 percent increment in the required doses of insulin.

The immunotherapy could be useful in controlling the number of type-1 diabetes patients as the people who are at high genetic risk for type-1 diabetes can have this drug.

“We’re looking at a drug that could be usable in five to 10 years if everything goes well,” says Mark Peakman from King’s College London, worked on the project.

Featured Image Credit: Bigstockphoto (type-1 diabetes immunotherapy)

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