Subjects in Honeymoon Phase Needed in Type 1 Drug Trial

A promising drug trial at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center needs children, aged 8 and older, who have recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, to participate.

In the early stages of type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is still capable of producing insulin, albeit in a diminished capacity. By the end of the honeymoon phase, which can last three to five years, insulin production shuts down. It goes without saying that patients who can continue to produce insulin will fare better than those who cannot. So far, nothing has been successful in reversing type 1 diabetes, especially when it is accompanied by high blood glucose levels.

Lead researcher Kevan Herold, MD, hopes that an immunosuppressive drug called hOKT3gamma1, if administered early in the honeymoon phase, might help to stop or reverse the progression of the disease. hOKT3gamma1 is a genetically modified form of OKT3 which is commonly used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. Unlike many other immunosuppressive drugs, which indiscriminately attack all immune cells within an area, hOKT3gamma1 only attacks the rogue immune cells responsible for beta cell destruction. In animal studies conducted at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, the drug was shown to reverse the progression of diabetes even in the presence of hyperglycemia, and normal blood sugars were restored without the need for insulin.

“We are set to determine whether the drug will alter the natural history of the disease and improve the ability to make insulin over a two-year period,” Herold was quoted as saying in the Winter 2000 issue of JDF International Countdown.

Parents who are interested in enrolling their type 1 children in this trial should call 212-304-5492 or email: kh318@columbia.edu.

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