Type 1 diabetes drug trialed on children ‘could stop condition’

Type 1 diabetes drug trialed on children ‘could stop condition’


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A pioneering drug that delays the onset of Type 1 diabetes has been trialled on British children – and could stop the life-threatening condition completely, doctors believe.

It is hoped Teplizumab will be made widely available in the UK next year after the final “phase three” trials have been completed. The drug can hold back the condition for several years and more research is being carried out to see whether it could prevent diabetes altogether.

More than 400,000 people in the UK have Type 1 diabetes, including 29,000 children. It is caused when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Teplizumab is being seen as one of the biggest breakthroughs in Type 1 diabetes since the discovery of life-saving artificial insulin 100 years ago. Despite insulin injections, patients still suffer complications and can die from poor control of their disease.

Common problems include damage to eyesight and the kidneys requiring either dialysis or a transplant

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug for use in patients over eight years old.

In the UK, the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence is understood to be examining US data with a view to approving the drug next year.

US data showed the drug held back the need for artificial insulin for up to three years. In some patients the delay has been longer.

Cardiff diabetologist Professor Colin Dayan, who headed UK trials of the drug in children, hopes new drugs might eventually hold back the disease completely. He said: “This is so exciting and definitely only the beginning.”

Children in the UK trial were given an intravenous infusion of the £168,000 drug for 30 minutes for 12 days. None suffered serious side effects apart from a mild rash or flu-like symptoms.

Professor Dayan said: “These are exciting times. Insulin was amazing, it has saved lives where death was almost inevitable before its discovery.

“For years we have been looking for the next step – and now we seem to have it.

“If we can hold back the need for insulin by several years, or maybe even longer, then we are helping young people lead a normal existence during the important years of growing up.”

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