Immunotherapy For Type 1 Diabetes Deemed Safe In First U.S. Trial
In the first U.S. safety trial of a new form of immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes (T1D), led by UC San Francisco scientists and physicians, patients experienced no serious adverse reactions after receiving infusions of as many as 2.6 billion cells that had been specially selected for their potential to protect the body’s ability to produce insulin.
T1D is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which normally defends against infections, somehow goes awry and targets insulin-secreting cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. Many T1D therapies aim to tackle this problem by suppressing the immune response, but that approach can have serious consequences, including an increased susceptibility to infection or cancer.
As reported in the Nov. 25 online issue of Science Translational Medicine, however, the cells used in the completed Phase 1 trial, known as regulatory T cells (Tregs; pronounced “tee-regs”), are instead based on the concept of “immune tolerance” – these cells may have the capability to dampen the immune system’s assault on beta cells while leaving its infection-fighting capabilities intact.
“This could be a game-changer,” said first author Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Metabolism and Endocrinology at UCSF. “For type 1 diabetes, we’ve traditionally given immunosuppressive drugs, but this trial gives us a new way forward. By using Tregs to ‘re-educate’ the immune system, we may be able to really change the course of this disease.”
While the trial was not designed to ass Continue reading