In Type 1 diabetes, the patient’s faulty immune system targets the pancreas. Without treatment, this causes so much damage that it no longer naturally produces insulin to prevent blood sugar rising to levels that become dangerous. Without regular injections, the patient will fall into a coma and die.
Now, an international team says that the new treatment, codenamed DiaPep277, will block the process which causes the body’s immune system to attack the pancreas in people with Type 1 diabetes; and it’ll hit the markets within three years.
The scientists hope that in patients newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the treatment will prevent the disease from developing because it will stop the destruction of vital cells of the pancreas which make insulin.
The drug will also allow the a patient’s body to carry on making its own insulin, eventually allowing their pancreas to recover and make enough to support the body completely, the ‘Sunday Express’ reported.
It will also reduce the risk of side effects linked with synthetic insulin which can mirror diabetes complications such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease that might require a transplant, say the scientists.
Trials are currently taking place at 140 centres in the UK, including at London’s King’s College Hospital, as well as Europe, North America, South Africa and Israel.
Dr Shlomo Dagan, of Andromeda Biotech in Israel, who is leading the research trails, was quoted by the British newspaper as saying, “We have proved in earlier trials that our compound stops the immune system attacking the pancreas.
“There is evidence to suggest that using the drug over a period of time, maybe a couple of years, will allow the pancreas to recover enough to make more insulin. In that situation the patient could stop injecting insulin.”
Experts have hailed the research.
Dr Eleanor Kennedy, spokeswoman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said: “The research on this shows it may well be possible that patients could cope without the need for any insulin injections. This is very exciting.”