A clinical study is being run to test whether the anti-inflammatory drug Alpha 1 Antitrypsin (A1AT) can successfully reverse newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.
Alpha 1 Antitrypsin is found in blood plasma and has an ability to regulate the immune system. A1AT has been used to treat people with emphysema but research has also shown promise for it to be a treatment for type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
A clinical trial is currently underway to test Alpha 1 Antitrypsin against people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The study, called the RETAIN (Research Trial of Aralast in New Onset Diabetes) II study, has finished recruiting and will be run at 9 cities across the United States.
A smaller trial in humans has already been run and results were published in 2012. The RETAIN I trial involved only 16 participants, however, and the study duration of 18 weeks was also relatively short. Results of the first trial showed promise with participants able to take significantly less insulin than they had needed to at the start of the trial.
The RETAIN II study, will involve a larger number of participants and will run for around 4 years in total. Participants in the A1AT treatment group will receive 12 weeks of the A1AT drug Aralast, whilst other participants will receive a placebo. The goal of the treatment will be to observe a higher amount of C-peptide being produced by those in the A1AT treatment group after 1 year. C-peptide is a marker of how much of the body’s own insulin is being produced.
If the drug treatment is successful, and this is not guaranteed, there are other barriers to contend with as the drug is made from human plasma and is a very expensive treatment. On a positive note, the drug has been shown to be well tolerated and safe. The RETAIN study has received funding from the JDRF.

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