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Immunotherapy could slow progression of diabetes

Date: 10 August 2017

A pioneering immunotherapy may be able to ‘retrain’ the immune system to slow the progression of type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, reducing their number until the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Researchers supported by the NIHR Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Centre investigated injecting small fragments of protein molecules from the pancreas into 27 people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

This approach appeared to ‘retrain’ the immune system to slow down its destruction of beta cells, reducing the progression of diabetes.

Professor Mark Peakman, a researcher at NIHR Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Centre who led the trial, said: “When someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they still typically have between 15% and 20% of their beta cells. We wanted to see if we could protect these remaining cells.”

“We still have a long way to go, but these early results suggest we are heading in the right direction. The peptide technology used in our trial is not only safe for patients, but it also has a noticeable effect on the immune system.”

The MonoPepT1De trial at King’s College London and Cardiff University was also supported by Diabetes UK and JDRF, the Type 1 diabetes charity.

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  • Summary:
    A pioneering immunotherapy may be able to ‘retrain’ the immune system to slow the progression of type 1 diabetes.
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  • Year of publication:
    2017
  • Specialty:
    Diabetes
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