immunotherapy trail

A British trial is set to investigate whether an immunotherapy treatment could stop the progression of type 1 diabetes.

Scientists at the Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s hospital, London are recruiting 24 people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The participants need to be aged 18-45 and still have some insulin secretion. The trial will be conducted in late 2016.

The participants will be treated with a new treatment called MultiPepT1De, which targets the autoimmune attack that leads to the development of type 1. The volunteers will all receive six injections of MultiPepT1De, four weeks apart.

The first generation of MultiPepT1De, known as MonoPepT1De, was found in a previous study to have positive effects in people with type 1 diabetes. It was also shown to be safe and well tolerated.

MultiPepT1De is a more powerful drug. It contains peptides, which are small fragments of protein molecules found in pancreatic beta cells.

If the drug can “switch off” the autoimmune attack in type 1 diabetes, researchers hope that it could prevent further destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells.

Lead author Professor Mark Peakman, King’s College London, said: “If we get in with this therapy early enough we may be able to protect the beta cells that remain in those patients so that they continue to make some of their own insulin which would give them better control of blood glucose and mean their risk of future complications of diabetes is reduced.”

If MultiPepT1De is shown to be safe and capable of providing protective effects following treatment, it will act like a vaccine against type 1 diabetes.

The researchers stressed that the research is at a very early stage, but the study is being met with optimism by the JRDF.

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “If we can teach the immune system to stop attacking the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas we can potentially prevent type 1 diabetes from developing.

“This would be a major breakthrough. Incidence of the condition is rising, especially among young children, so research projects like this must be supported.”