Health Watch: Immunotherapy delays diabetes

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 fifteen times more likely to get the disease.

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

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

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

"I knew I'm going to get it some time, 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 the twins' mother, Keri Coder.

Jane Buckner, MD, President at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason calls the study and its results groundbreaking.

Dr. Buckner said, "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."

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 under 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," Dr. Buckner said.

TrialNet hopes more studies will lead to FDA approval.

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

Contributors: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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