Experimenting with Antibodies

Exciting news on experimental treatments! A new study on Type 1 diabetics showed that injecting the antibody anti-CD3 may help “stop this autoimmune disease in its tracks,” according to JDRF executive VP for research Dr. Richard Insel.

Researchers at Necker Hospital in Paris apparently tested this “novel approach” on newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics who still had some insulin function left. The results, published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, were encouraging enough for the JDRF to plan future large-scale studies.

DiabetesdrugWhat they did this time was randomly divide 80 patients recently
diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes into two groups — one getting the antibody treatment intravenously and the other getting a
placebo. The researchers recorded insulin doses and evaluated
how well the patients’ pancreatic cells produced insulin at the
beginning of the study and also at six, 12, and 18 months following treatment.

What they found out was that within the 18 months, the placebo patients needed more insulin and had a decrease in the functioning of their insulin-producing cells, whereas the anti-body receivers had little change at all in their insulin needs or islet cell function. In other words, it looks like the drug may stop the attack on pancreatic cells!

BUT: there are safety concerns. Most who got the treatment had side effects including headaches, fever, joint aches, and rashes. These are supposedly temporary, but could increase risk of a blood disorder down the line.

AND: “Since the trial lasted for only 18 months, it is unclear if the treatment could ‘wear off’ after a certain period of time.”

Yes, we know: Don’t get too excited. But a fascinating development, nonetheless.


3 Responses

  1. Nick
    Nick June 26, 2005 at 1:33 pm | | Reply

    Yes, I think this is exciting too.
    Cela m’excite bien.

  2. DensityDuck
    DensityDuck June 27, 2005 at 7:31 am | | Reply

    Interesting that they did a placebo study. I’d think that A: there’s already a pretty well-established baseline for what happens when you don’t get the treatment, and B: if the treatment showed a clear improvement, then the patients in the study who got a placebo would have been pretty upset that they didn’t get the treatment! (since it’s not as though you can re-set your pancreas to where it was when the experiment started…)

  3. Jo
    Jo June 28, 2005 at 9:35 am | | Reply

    Dang I was getting excited too reading this! I was thinking, “if this works for T1s, wonder if it would help those thyroid patients with autoimune problems,” but alas my hopes were dashed.

    BTW, I am within normal ranges 98% of the time! I have morning highes in the 140s, but am usually between 90 and 100 by lunch :)

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