New research shows promise in keeping beta cell insulin production stable in those with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.
While the study was small and more research will need to be completed, this is a step in a good direction to aid with keeping beta cells that remain, active after diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.
Researchers are testing a type of treatment known as Peptide Immunotherapy. Since the immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells and causes damage that doesn’t allow them to produce insulin any longer, a treatment that stops this attack would leave some function to the betas. They explain that this kind therapy works sort of like an allergy shot. They know that the immune attack by confused cells can be stopped by using another of the body’s cells – the regulatory T cells. The research indicates that when someone develops type 1 diabetes he or she may not have enough of these helpful T-cells or they aren’t working the right way to keep the system from attacking its own cells. Thus the therapy works to suppress the immune attack by teaching the immune system that it should not attack the beta cells.
The findings of the study show that with peptide immunotherapy the participants that received the actual product were able to maintain c-peptide levels (which is an indicator of pancreatic insulin production) whereas those who received a placebo had a decline in c-peptide level. There was also a 50% increase in insulin use by 12 months out from the study for those who received placebo, but the ones who received the treatment had no increase in insulin use by 12 months post study – a good indication that they had preserved beta cells which continued to help in the daily need for insulin rather than a need to increase the injected insulin.
Further research needs to be done to determine if this would also help those who have had type 1 diabetes for a longer period of time. Researchers feel that if someone with long standing type 1 still had detectible c-peptide levels then the therapy may even be beneficial for those individuals as well.
Integrated Diabetes Services is the worldwide leader in one-on-one consulting for people who use insulin. Diabetes “coaching” services are available in-person and remotely via phone and the internet for children and adults.