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A drug 'that can halt diabetes' in six days

Last Updated : 11 May 2010, 15:36 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2010, 15:36 IST

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The drug, called otelixizumab, which appears to halt the rapid decline in the body’s production of insulin, works by switching off the immune system’s self-destruct mechanism that causes type 1 diabetes, say the scientists.

This halts damage to the pancreas, allowing it to carry on producing its own insulin, the “Daily Mail” reported.

Currently undergoing clinical trials, the drug seems to work best when given as soon as possible after someone has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It is given as a daily jab for six days in a row.

Type 1 diabetes, which tends to affect young people, occurs when the immune system starts to attack healthy tissues such as the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

In fact, the new drug works by altering the balance between certain types of cell in the immune system. It contains a very specific antibody – a protein that is designed to home in on certain cells in the body.

In this case, the antibody targets a marker found only on the T effector cells. Once the drug locks onto the cells, it stops them destroying insulin-producing cells in pancreas.

The findings, published in the ‘Diabetologia’ journal, show that otelixizumab can either halt or dramatically reduce need for insulin injections among newly diagnosed diabetics.
Patients given the six-day treatment were able to continue making their own insulin, or needed to inject only small amounts. In contrast, a group given a dummy treatment needed rapidly increasing amounts of injected insulin. It’s too early to say if the new drug can ‘cure’ diabetes.

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Published 11 May 2010, 15:36 IST

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