12 May 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Drug In Works May Help Preserve Patient’s Natural Ability To Produce Insulin
It comes as a new hope for people with type 1 diabetics, who are fed up of taking lifelong insulin shots. In a major breakthrough, scientists are clinically trying a new drug, which shows potential of stalling and reversing type 1 diabetes in less than one week’s time.
A drug named Otelixizumab that has to be given as a daily jab for six days in a row could help preserve the patient’s natural ability to produce insulin for years. It does so by halting damage to the pancreas, allowing it to carry on producing its own insulin.
Type 1 diabetes, which tends to affect young people, more often occurs when the immune system starts to attack healthy tissues such as insulinproducing cells in the pancreas. Once a person suffers from full–fledged type 1 diabetes, there is no other cure but lifelong insulin shots.
Anoop Mishra, head of the department of diabetes of Fortis Hospitals, said, “Some of these immune mechanisms that cause type 1 diabetes have been target of drug development for quite some time. If given in early stages when destruction of pancreatic beta cells is not complete, this would help in either treating or preventing type 1 diabetes for which there is no treatment except lifelong insulin.”
Otelixizumab is thought to work by blocking the function of T effector cells that attack the body’s tissues and cause autoimmune disease while inducing a subset of T cells known as T regulatory cells. It is thought that the T regulatory cells may protect against T effector cell damage well after the drug has been eliminated from the body.
In earlier clinical trials, involving patients with new–onset type 1 diabetes, Otelixizumab helped preserve the function of insulin–producing beta cells in the pancreas, and reduced the amount of insulin needed to control blood glucose levels, for 18 months after only six days of Otelixizumab administration.
However, during the six days of the administration of Otelixizumab, the subjects had headaches, nausea, bodyaches, and other flu–like symptoms. Patients have about 20% of their functioning beta cells left when they are first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Shot in the Arm
- Type 1 diabetes, which tends to affect youngsters, occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues, such as insulinproducing cells in the pancreas
- The drug, Otelixizumab, supposedly blocks the function of T effector cells that attack tissues and cause autoimmune diseases
- In earlier clinical trials, the drug helped preserve the function of insulin–producing beta cells in the pancreas and reduced the amount of insulin needed to control blood glucose levels for 18 months