Zombie Drug May Help Type 1 Kids

Sometimes, having something rise from the dead can be a good thing, at least when it comes to one promising diabetes drug.

According to an UPI report, a team of researchers announced this week that the drug teplizumab has proven successful in keeping the body’s natural insulin levels up in the beginning stages of Type 1 diabetes. If you’re a diabetes drug wonk, the name “teplizumab” might sound familiar to you; this is the same drug that was given up for dead in 2010 after it failed to reach the desired promise in previous trials. Now, like some kind of benevolent zombie, this drug has risen up from the grave and may still prove a boon to the Type 1 community.

The team of researchers, co-led by University of California San Francisco researcher Jeffrey Bluestone, report that the drug seems to work best in maintaining insulin production for those who have been recently diagnosed with Type 1, thus prolonging the so-called “honeymoon” period of insulin production in the early stages of the disease. This could help stabilize insulin levels for Type 1 kids at a time when insulin control often is the most difficult. The drug didn’t beat the spread against the control treatments when it came to patients in more advanced stages of Type 1, however. The researchers suggest the drug did better this time around because of changes in dose, patients selected and measured endpoints of the trial.

With the price of drug development soaring ever higher, more research efforts are focused on “recycling” existing drugs for other uses or searching through the scrap heap for drugs whose full benefits have been overlooked. Earlier this year, the National Institute of Health awarded nine grants to research projects designed to find good uses for drugs abandoned by other researchers. Further research is needed, but the initial results seem to suggest there may be life after death for teplizumab.



Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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