July 21


Is Immunotherapy The Key to Preventing Type 1 Diabetes?

By Gabriela

July 21, 2023

The most popular recent way of treatment is immunotherapy. Seemingly, it can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in adults and children.

British researchers gave patients with a metabolic disorder, a trial version of the chemicals that can raise insulin. So far, medical professionals have been unable to treat diabetes with the use of this therapy completely. The experiments calmed the immune system but did not cure it.

Therefore, researchers named this new study ‘a strategy for prevention’ for both children and adults with type 1 diabetes. These participants were either on the verge of developing diabetes or already had it.

A Strategy For Prevention

After 12 months, 8 participants received placebo treatment and needed an increased dosage of insulin to control their glycemic. As time went by, their immune system slowly eradicated the pancreatic cells and created an important hormone.

As a result, their need for insulin grew by about 50%. But, when it comes to the other 19 participants who received the new immune therapy, they could produce their own insulin. As a result, their need for shots did not increase after the diagnostics.

The results of the experiment were evident after 3 months. The journal Science Translational Medicine published a report on this experiment. Researchers stated that this therapy could be safe for the population to use.

Furthermore, experts avoid trying new strategies to fight diabetes, because they believe the new experiments can worsen the situation.

Some bad side-effects could appear like dangerous allergic reactions, damage to the immune system, or even the production of more insulin in the pancreatic cells. However, so far there are no bad side-effects from the immune therapy in the report. Not even swelling from injections.

So, maybe this treatment may prove useful after all.

Antigen-Specific Immunotherapy

There are many experiments that focus on reassuring and strengthening the immune system by creating chemicals that mimic allergies. These chemicals are directly injected into the system. This approach is also known as antigen-specific immunotherapy.

As a result of this antigen immunotherapy, some food allergies were eliminated, like eggs, soy, and peanuts. There are also different types of food allergies connected with type 1 diabetes.

Such an example is the immune disorder that starts when a harmless food enters the system, and the body treats it as a threat. The immune system attacks this food and causes swelling, itching, or even anaphylactic shock.

This condition may cause problems for a person with diabetes, and damage their blood vessels and organs, along with the ability to extract the necessary fuel from food. This antigen-specific immunotherapy not only can eliminate food allergies, but it may also help in this situation.

Researchers believe that this way the immune system of people with diabetes can recognize the insulin and stop the attack on the food. Thus, it will avoid any allergic response.

Dr. Mohammad Alhadj Ali at King’s College London and Cardiff University led a group of researchers that isolated the compound C19 A3 peptide. For six months they injected 19 participants with diabetes injections that increase insulin. They tracked every participant.

After the injection had started affecting their immune system, especially the CD4 and CD8 T-cells, they started attacking the beta-cells in the pancreas.

Statements Taken from a Participant in the Trial

Aleix Rowlandson participated in the trial of immune therapy in the UK. She wanted to try anything within her power to stop diabetes from affecting her immune system. Her system always attacks food and considers it an invader.

Immune therapy focuses on exposing the T cells to proteins that are in the beta cells. The idea is to stop the T cells from attacking the immune system. According to Prof. Mark Peakman, the overall safety of this therapy seems alright.

Therefore, it may be a good way to regulate the T cells.

However, Aleix didn’t need to increase the dosage of insulin while the trial was ongoing. So, there is still no proof that this therapy can stop diabetes type 1, but maybe it can prove beneficial for the immune system.

Nevertheless, the need to find a way that can completely treat diabetes still continues. More than 40,000 people in the US are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year. Because of the unhealthy way of life, many new immune disorders keep on appearing.

Source: Los Angeles Times | BBC News | Science Translation Medicine


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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