Washington—Even as researchers continue to search for the roots of type 1 diabetes, a new drug to prevent the autoimmune disease awaits large-scale human testing. If successful, it would brighten the clinical landscape considerably, possibly curtailing endless iterations of glucose testing and insulin injecting and the serious complications of the disease.
DiaPep 277, a laboratory-made peptide, already appears to have helped a few patients. In a double-blind phase 2 trial, the drug maintained C-peptide levels—and by extension, pancreatic β-cell function—in 15 human volunteers for up to 10 months (Lancet. 2001;358:1749-1753). It also prevented β-cell destruction in newly diabetic mice (Diabetes. 1997;46:758-764). "The molecule blocked the disease even in animals at the brink of diabetes," said Dana Elias, PhD, a researcher at Peptor Ltd, the Rehovot, Israel, company developing the drug.