An immune therapy drug could be used to delay diabetes by several years.

An international clinical trial involving Australian researchers has shown that immune therapy drug teplizumab can delay type 1 diabetes (T1D) by two years in children and adults at high risk.

The five-year long study involved 76 children and young adults at very high risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

“These results are incredibly encouraging,” says A/Prof John Wentworth, endocrinologist and scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

“We have known for over 3 decades how to identify children who are destined to develop type 1 diabetes. Now, for the first time, we have something that will improve their prospects and delay the need to start insulin injections to control blood sugar levels.

“This is an extremely important finding. It demonstrates that immune therapy can delay type 1 diabetes. This evidence will accelerate progress toward a cure by enabling additional clinical trials to develop even better immune therapies for type 1 diabetes.

“This result also provides hope to type 1 diabetes families and the general community. Previously, we could do a blood test and advise the family that their child will develop diabetes. Now we can do something for these children.”

The study is being conducted by TrialNet, the largest clinical trial network ever assembled.