Other research news is brighter for people at risk for type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM): An NIH-funded study found that treatment with teplizumab, an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, delayed clinical T1DM by ≥ 2 years.
Previous research had found that teplizumab slows the loss of β cells in people with recent-onset clinical T1DM, but the drug had not been tested in people without clinical disease. The researchers wanted to see whether early intervention would have a benefit for people at high risk. They compared a 14-day course of teplizumab with placebo in 76 participants aged 8 to 49 years who were relatives of people with T1DM, had at ≥ 2 types of DM-related autoantibodies, and had abnormal glucose tolerance.
During the trial, 72% of people on placebo developed clinical DM compared with 43% of those in the treatment group. The median time for the control participants to develop DM was just over 24 months vs 48 months in the teplizumab group. The effects of the drug were greatest in the first year after it was given, when 41% of the participants—mainly in the placebo group—developed clinical diabetes.
At-risk children and adolescents are known to progress to T1DM faster than adults, the researchers note. They say faster progression is associated with a highly active immune system, which may explain the impact of immune system-modulating drugs like teplizumab.
The study “illustrates how decades of research on the biology of T1D can lead to promising treatments that have a real impact on people’s lives,” NIDDK Director Rodgers says.
But the T1DM and T2DM studies, although highlighting areas of effectiveness, also underscore the continued need for new approaches to prevent and treat DM in young people.
Although the drop in new cases of T2DM are still unclear, the CDC researchers suggest that they are driven in part by increased awareness of DM prevention, changes in diet, changes in physical activity, and changes in diagnostic and screening practices. In other words, prevention also remains an urgent need.