Researchers claim to have found a new drug that they believe could halt the progression of diabetes in under a week. The drug would be given as a shot to newly diagnosed patients suffering from Type-1 diabetes. Their findings were reported in Diabetologia – Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
Otelixizumab, a drug manufactured by Tolerx of Cambridge, Ma., is believed to stop the decline of insulin in the body. Simply, otelixizumab is able to turn off the body's immune system self-destruct button, which causes Type-1 diabetes, which in turn stops damage to the pancreas, allowing it to continue to produce insulin. The drug is currently undergoing clinical trials.
Researchers believe that the drug will be most effective if administered for six consecutive days as soon as a patient is diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, which is most common in younger people. Type-1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin to control blood glucose levels.
The clinical study was conducted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Center for Beta Cells Therapy in Diabetes in Brussels.
The immune system protects against invading viruses and bacteria by releasing what is called T-effector cells. T-regulatory cells then stop the T-effector cells them from harming the body. It is believed that in Type-1 diabetes, the T-effector cells are not balanced and consequently attack healthy organs and tissue, as well as the bacteria and viruses. Researchers believe that this new drug, which contains an antibody that can target markers found in the T-effector cells, can stop them destroying the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
“Our data provides strong support to a novel disease modifying treatment for new-onset T1DM patients. The data showed that immune modulation by otelixizumab to dampen the autoimmune destruction process thereby preserving residual beta cells and their contribution to glycemic control,” said Dr. Daniel Pipeleers, Director of the JDRF Center