Vaccine therapies for T1D offer hope for the future
Peptide immunotherapy could lead to innovations to prevent or slow T1D
Promising research led by British researcher Dr. Mark Peakman and his team at King’s College London could lead to novel ways to prevent T1D in at-risk populations, and slow the progression of the disease in individuals already diagnosed.
Previous studies have shown that immunosuppressant drugs weaken the autoimmune attack that causes T1D, which prevents the destruction of insulin-producing cells and leads to short-term improvements in blood glucose control. Scientists are experimenting with an antigen-specific immunotherapy injection to change the behaviour of the immune system and protect against T1D, similar to how a vaccine would work. More recently, they have used this knowledge to conduct the first clinical trial in T1D of a novel approach called peptide immunotherapy.
Dr. Peakman and his team studied 27 participants with T1D who had been diagnosed with the disease within the previous 100 days, and placed them in either a placebo group, a group given immunotherapy once every four weeks or a group that received the immunotherapy injection once every two weeks. Among their findings, injections of immunogenic C-peptides of disease-related autoantigens help preserve beta cell mass and function, thereby keeping insulin production steady in trial participants with new-onset diabetes.
Peptide injection may serve as a potentially safe treatment alternative for T1D because it does not cause any serious side effects or hypersensitivity reactions. In addition to potentially preventing T1D in those who are at risk and slowing the disease progression in those who are already diagnosed with T1D, this research could lead to new innovations to reduce serious complications such as stroke, nephropathy and ketoacidosis.
The development of a vaccine is a major achievement in T1D research and will undeniably improve the lives of the millions of people worldwide affected by T1D, says Dr. Bob Goldstein, JDRF Canada’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Antigen-specific immunotherapies for T1D have been decades in the making, and clinical trials on prototype vaccines that could prevent the condition in children will begin this year.