What if people at risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D) could curb the progression of the disease by a couple of years?
Earlier this month, TrialNet’s Teplizumab Prevention Study revealed that teplizumab, an immunotherapy drug that suppresses the immune system, delayed a diagnosis of T1D by an average of two years in children and adults at high risk. Results were presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Immunotherapy is a promising form of treatment that could one day become an insulin-free alternative to potentially cure T1D. It involves the use of substances, such as drugs, to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight diseases.
All participants in TrialNet’s Teplizumab study were relatives of people with T1D and thought to have close to a 100% chance of developing the disease in their lifetime. Of the 76 high-risk individuals who took part in the trial, 55 were under the age of 18.
Funded by JDRF and the National Institutes of Health (primarily through the Special Diabetes Program), this research represents a major breakthrough in the area of prevention. While previous studies showed teplizumab prolonged insulin production in people recently diagnosed with T1D, this is the first to demonstrate that a drug can delay a diagnosis in high-risk individuals.
“Delaying the progression of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the only approach in the short-term to impact the incidence and prevalence of the disease,” says Dave Prowten, JDRF Canada’s president and CEO. “This study marks an incredible advancement in research that will not only affect many people living with T1D, but also help bring us closer to our goal of turning type one into type none.”
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