Autoimmune drug shows 'very, very significant' results treating Type 1 diabetes

Jun 22, 2020

New diabetes research conducted by a team from the University at Buffalo and Oishei Children's Hospital has found a drug on the market for many years offers significant help to newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics.

"It's very, very significant from a clinical standpoint."

The course of Type 1 is that a patient's pancreas deteriorates to the point it can't make any insulin. The patient takes only industrial insulin. In the early stages of the disease after diagnosis - called the honeymoon period - there is some pancreatic recovery.

Now, a drug called Simponi, marketed for autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, seems to keep the pancreas going while delaying a patient using only man-made insulin.

"Any agent that can help achieving the gold standard of control, which is the hemoglobin A1C, an optimum hemoglobin A1C with less insulin means a better lifestyle for the patient," said Dr. Teresa Quattrin, a distinguished professor in the Pediatrics Department at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine.

The clinical trial of Simponi was tested in 27 centers across the country, The 84 patients tested were split two-thirds Simponi and one-third placebo. Quattrin said the goal is a normal life for diabetics young and old.

"They're playing sports. They do well in school. They are talented musicians and so forth. But they bear this tremendous burden, day in and day out," she said. "When they grow up, we tell them, yeah, you can drive. But you have to check the blood sugar. You have to be very careful."

She said there is more activity in cell phone apps to help in treatment and there is more activity in developing artificial intelligence to better manage the sensor and the pump.