A new drug therapy for treating patients with type 1 diabetes has shown an early success in killing off certain autoimmune cells that attack the pancreas, and also raised levels of a marker that indicates that insulin is being produced.
The laboratory research, carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States, has offered promising results in its phase I humans trials, although it is still too early for it to be producing insulin and becoming a viable alternative for use by human diabetics .
For the laboratory mice, the study involved using one drug to hit the bad immune system cells, known as T-cells, while another drug was used to destroy the precursor cells that allow them to develop. However, the human trial targeted only the drug that knocks out the bad T-cells, which means that if this turns out to be an effective treatment, repeated doses will be required to prevent a renewed attack on the pancreas .
The trial, which is the first stage in a multi-step process required by federal regulators before the drug can be approved, found that human patients were not only able to tolerate the drug, but also had a positive response to it.
The tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin was used for this stage, with low doses given to 12 diabetics who had suffered from the condition for an average of 15 years. The treatment was shown to kill the pancreas-attacking T-cells and boost the body’s protective T-cells.

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