Stem cell implants could provide 'functional cure' for type 1 diabetes

12 August, 2017, 01:58 | Author: Pamela Mathis
  • The new treatment stops immune cells attacking beta cells which produce insulin

The authors say further investigations that include larger cohorts will be required to evaluate efficacy, but the favorable safety profile they observed suggests immunotherapy could be a viable option for treating type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Mark Peakman, a professor of clinical immunology at King's College London in England, said they found that the immunotherapy had the potential to stop the attacks on beta cells that make insulin.

Researchers have been wary of pursuing the strategy in diabetes, anxious that it could accelerate or strengthen the immune system's attack on insulin-producing pancreatic cells, or cause risky allergic reactions.

All 19 participants receiving the immunotherapy-in both arms-continued to produce their own insulin.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent (August 9th) edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine. In diabetes, it destroys a function that's essential to the body's ability to extract fuel from food and to keep freely circulating blood sugar from damaging organs and blood vessels.

Immunotherapy trials, by a team at King's College London and Cardiff University, showed "promise" in retraining the patient's immune system to slow the progression of the condition, which now has no cure.

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"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".

Here, researchers used a proinsulin peptide fragment-a snippet of the precursor form of insulin.

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". The subjects' glycemic control and insulin use were then tracked for another six months. But the immune system's CD4 and CD8 T-cells had begun to mount their attacks on the beta-cells of the pancreas.

Type 1 diabetes afflicts some 400,000 people in the United Kingdom, one of the highest rates in the world.

In a landmark, placebo-controlled trial for treatments that could halt the progression of type 1 diabetes, scientists report that an immunotherapy was safe and showed metabolic effects.

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