Newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients often experience what is known as a ‘honeymoon’ phase in the development of their disease. During the honeymoon phase, the progressive destruction of their insulin- producing beta cells slows down and insulin production stabilizes.

A single treatment with hOKT3gamma(ala-ala), a drug developed by our very own Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone, looks to be highly effective in prolonging the honeymoon for a period of time. Clinical trials conducted at UCSF and in collaboration with Dr. Kevan Herold at Columbia University have been very encouraging: to date, hOKT3gamma(ala-ala) has stopped diabetes progression in three-quarters of the children and young adults with new onset diabetes for over 1 year. Many of the pateints retained high levels of insulin production for over two years. The drug, also being used in studies of islet transplantation, appears to be able to stop the autoimmune attack on pancreatic islets, thereby preserving the patient’s remaining insulin producing capacity.

The drug is also the focus of a multicenter study in new onset patients that is being conducted by the Immune Tolerance Network. As more clinical centers begin to study hOKT3gamma(ala-ala) in new onset diabetes, Diabetes Center scientists are hoping to test the drug as a preventative therapy, in high risk pre-diabetic children who test antibody positive for type 1 diabetes.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, Diabetes Center