Groundbreaking Immunotherapy Can Delay Onset of Diabetes for 2 Years

A new global study shows that an immunotherapy drug can delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes for two years in high-risk children and adults.

The study ran in 28 research sites. The trial results are great news for the relatives of the millions of people with diabetes, who are 15 times more likely to get the disease.

Megan and Madeline Coder were different in one way: Megan was diagnosed with diabetes at age 9. As her twin, and because she has four of five proteins that target insulin-making cells, Madeline was at high risk.

"She got diagnosed in September. I started the trial in April," Madeline said.

Madeline got infusions of teplizumab for 14 days. She didn’t get diabetes for two years.

"I knew I'm going to get it sometime, so I knew I should be expecting it, but it was very nice not having to have it immediately," Madeline said.

"Megan dove in and was very diligent, and Madeline could watch and for two years, she just did that. And then when she had to step into that role, she did a good job. It was easier for her," the twins' mother, Keri Coder said.

Jane Buckner, MD, President at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason called the study and its results groundbreaking.

"This is certainly the first time looking at people at very high risk of getting diabetes who don't have it that we've been able to prove that we could delay disease with this treatment," Buckner said.

Of 76 participants in the trial, 72% who got a placebo developed diabetes, compared to only 43% who got teplizumab. Most of those in the trial were under 18 years old.

"It's a really important time in life for their health, for their growth, for their mental health. And so two more years without this disease is really going to have a huge impact on them," Buckner said.

TrialNet hope more studies will lead to FDA approval.

Buckner said trials are being planned to extend the benefits of teplizumab, that could perhaps even prevent diabetes altogether.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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