Scientists recently developed a new drug that could delay type 1 diabetes by almost two years for people at risk of developing the condition. An anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (teplizumab) is part of the new treatment.
"Previous clinical research found that teplizumab effectively slows the loss of beta cells in people with recent onset clinical type 1 diabetes, but the drug had never been tested in people who did not have clinical disease," Kevan C Herold, of Yale University, told a news portal. Adding, "We wanted to see whether early intervention would have a benefit for people who are at high risk but do not yet have symptoms of type 1 diabetes."
A team of researchers from Yale University conducted a trial test on 76 participants between the ages of eight and 49. The participants either had two types of diabetes-related autoantibodies,abnormal glucose tolerance or were relatives of type 1 diabetes patients.The group was divided into two groups for the study. For 14 days one group had to take teplizumab. Meanwhile, the control group was given a placebo.Over the course of the experiment, researchers regularly took glucose tolerance tests.
The results showed only 43 per cent of the teplizumab group developed clinical diabetes. Meanwhile, 72 per cent of people in the control group developed the condition. It took 24 months for people in the control group to develop clinical diabetes. However, those who took the new drug only developed the condition after 48 months.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system's T cells destroy the body's own insulin-producing beta cells. We need insulin to convert glucose into energy. Researchers say teplizumab can target T cells and reduce the damaged caused on beta cells.
Data from the trial test could help researchers understand why some people responded to treatment better than others. Those that responded to teplizumab were likely to have autoantibodies and other immune system characteristics.
Despite the findings, researchers note that the study has had some limitations. The study only had a small group of participants and lacked ethnic diversity. Therefore more research is needed to understand how this drug can be used as a treatment option for diabetes.
The study's findings were originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine.