A Swiss pharmaceutical company has announced the first patient has been treated in its new type 1 diabetes trial.
GeNeuro, based in Geneva, is testing its phase IIa study of GNbAC1, an antibody designed to target a protein that has been linked to various autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes.
This envelope protein (Env) is part of the human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) family, which researchers estimate to account for up to eight per cent of the human genome.
“The objective of this Phase 2a study is to demonstrate GNbAC1’s safety and potential benefit in preserving pancreatic function in patients with type 1 diabetes,” said Francois Curti, COO of GeNeuro.
“By targeting a potential cause of type 1 diabetes, GNbAC1 may lead to a paradigm shift for millions of patients throughout the world.”
The first of the 60 patients to be treated in the Australian study has randomly received either GNbAC1 or placebo. As well as assessing the treatment’s safety, the researchers will examine links between treatment response and biomarkers of pancreatic function and biomarkers associated with type 1 diabetes.
GNbAC1 has also been detected in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and researchers believe it could be a causal factor in other autoimmune diseases.
“We have been accumulating knowledge that this pathogenic protein may be a key factor in the development of autoimmune diseases other than multiple sclerosis,” said Curtin.
Associate Prof. Richard W. Simpso, Eastern Clinical Research Unit of Monash University, and national investigator for the study, added: “The need for new treatments for type 1 diabetes is very high. Preclinical data show that GNbAC1 provides an innovating and promising approach to address this important medical need.”
Patient enrolment is expected to be finalised by the end of 2017, with preliminary results expected late in 2018.

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