Groundbreaking immunotherapy delays diabetes for 2 years

Published: Oct. 22, 2019 at 1:31 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A new global study shows that an immunotherapy drug can delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes for two years in high-risk kids and adults. The study ran in 28 research sites.

Trial results are great news for the relatives of the millions of people with diabetes, who are 15 times more likely to get the disease.

Megan and Madeline Coder were different in one way: Megan was diagnosed with diabetes at age 9. As her twin and having four of five proteins that target insulin-making cells, Madeline was at high risk.

"She got diagnosed in September. I started the trial in April," Madeline recalled.

Madeline got infusions of Teplizumab for 14 days. She didn't get diabetes for two years.

"I knew I'm going to get it sometime, so I knew I should be expecting it, but it was very nice not having to have it immediately," Madeline said.

"Megan dove in and was very diligent, and Madeline could watch and, for two years, she just did that. And then when she had to step into that role, she did a good job. It was easier for her," said Keri Coder, the twins' mother.

Benaroya Research Institute President Dr. Jane Buckner called the study and its results groundbreaking.

"This is certainly the first time looking at people at very high risk of getting diabetes who don't have it that we've been able to prove that we could delay disease with this treatment," she said.

Of 76 participants in the trial, 72% who got a placebo developed diabetes, compared to only 43% who got Teplizumab. Most of those in the trial were younger than 18.

"It's a really important time in life for their health, for their growth, for their mental health. And so, two more years without this disease is really going to have a huge impact on them," Buckner said.

TrialNet hope more studies will lead to Food and Drug Administration approval.

Buckner says trials are being planned to extend the benefits of Teplizumab, perhaps even preventing diabetes altogether.




REPORT: MB #4647

BACKGROUND: Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an immune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Known risk factors include family history: having a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes, age: you can get type 1 diabetes at any age, but it's more likely to develop when you're a child, teen, or young adult. In the United States, whites are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans. (Source:

TREATMENT: Type 1 diabetes is managed through use of a variety of insulins. People with T1D must work closely with their medical team to find the right insulin treatment for their condition. Insulin can be delivered via syringes or pens, pumps or new artificial pancreas systems. Though the administration method, frequency and type of insulin dosage vary on a case-by-case basis, injections may be needed multiple times per day. Combined with insulin, diet and exercise, type 2 diabetes (T2D) drug metformin is sometimes prescribed to people with T1D to help treat their diabetes. Metformin helps control the body's blood-sugar levels and how the liver processes sugar. (Source:

NEW RESEARCH: Jane Bucker, MD, President of Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason talked about the trial, "In this study, we will continue to follow these patients, but those who have not developed diabetes yet may go on to develop diabetes and then we would have been able to say we delayed it. Some of them may never develop diabetes and then our hope is that we actually prevented them from ever getting it. That's our ultimate goal, is to give a therapy that prevents disease. We can't make that bold statement based on this, but this is certainly the first time looking at people at very high risk of getting diabetes who don't yet have it that we've been able to prove that we could delay disease with this treatment." (Source: Jane Bucker, MD)