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New study investigates cancer drug as a treatment for type 1 diabetes

A new study funded by JDRF will carry out research to see if an existing medication that is used to treat cancer may help to prevent cells in the pancreas from being destroyed in newly diagnosed patients with type 1 diabetes .
The drug which will be tested is aldesleukin. The drug is a man-made form of a protein, which is produced by our body, called interleukin-2. Aldesleukin is currently used as a choemotherapy treatment for specific types of kidney and skin cancers.
The research will be carried out at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge with researcher’s from Cambridge University. Forty newly diagnosed patients with type 1 diabetes that have agreed to take part in the trial will take much smaller doses of the medication than is used for choemotherapy.
In type 1 diabetes, a specific type of immune cells called T cells that normally only kill non-human organisms become mis-trained, for an unknown reason, and start to attack and destroy the insulin producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas.
The researchers hope that a small dose of the drug will help the immune system to regulate these rogue T-cells and prevent them from incorrectly targeting and attacking cells in the pancreas.

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