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New diabetes therapy to target immune response

A new research project into a drug therapy for preventing type 1 diabetes has been launched at King’s College in London.
The project, supported by a Wellcome Trust Translation Award, aims to target the immune response behind type 1 diabetes to prevent the metabolic condition from developing in the first place. The therapy, called MultiPepT1De, is made up of a range of small parts of molecules called peptides, and is being designed to prevent the immune system from attacking and destroying the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which in turn regulates blood sugar levels.
Peptides are thought to be partly responsible for the destructive immune response in type 1 diabetes, so the scientists hope to introduce them in a way that turns off this destructive response, resetting the immune system to ensure it does not attack the beta cells. Clinical trials for the therapy are expected to being in 2014.
Project leader, Mark Peakma, commented “MultiPepT1De has some important advantages over current approaches to the prevention of type 1 diabetes, especially its ability to avoid global immune suppressio, which is a problem with several other approaches under consideration.”
He added “We have pinpointed the key peptides involved in type 1 diabetes and are hopeful that this could lead to an effective preventative treatment for children and adults who may be at risk of developing the condition.”

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