T1D Research Roundup: March 2021

March 19, 2021

Our research roundups bring you the most exciting T1D research stories from around the world – the new advances in treatment, devices and knowledge that are making the biggest impact in the fight to cure, treat and prevent T1D.

Here’s what you need to know in T1D research this month:

Monash University researchers crack the cell regeneration code

Researchers at Monash University have made a breakthrough in the area of beta cell regeneration.  The reason most human cells, including beta cells, don’t regenerate is that this ability is “switched off” after birth. The team at Monash discovered the way the body switches this ability off – through the process of DNA methylation. The team also found that by reversing this methylation, progenitor cells (early stem cells) can be “reawakened” with the potential to become new insulin-producing beta cells. This discovery could pave the way for future research using reawakened progenitor cells as a treatment for T1D and other diseases that involve damage to cells.

New CGM clinical trial begins

A new clinical trial, partly supported by JDRF, has kicked off. The study involves using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to measure blood glucose levels in children at high risk of developing T1D. All children in the study have previously taken part in the ENDIA clinical trial. Led by Prof Aveni Haynes from the Children’s Diabetes Centre in Western Australia, the study aims to find clues as to how blood glucose levels change throughout the early stages of T1D. This knowledge could help develop better T1D treatments in the future, and help develop guidelines on the use of CGM in young children.

Two new clinical trials of breakthrough new therapies

Two clinical trials in North America have begun testing therapies that could be game changers for treating and curing T1D. The first trial involves a breakthrough stem cell therapy known as VX-880, developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals with support from the JDRF T1D Fund. VX-880 has the potential to restore the body’s ability to produce insulin, and is being trialled in people with T1D and impaired hypoglycaemic awareness. The second trial, taking place in Canada and funded by JDRF, will evaluate a drug called ustekinumab that can potentially protect beta cells from immune damage.

A new study of a T1D vaccine

Diamyd Medical, a Swedish-based company, announced an upcoming clinical trial of their Diamyd vaccine for type 1 diabetes. Diamyd is designed to preserve insulin production in people newly diagnosed with T1D. The trial will look at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in people with T1D and a particular genetic variation known as HLA DR3-DQ2. Diamyd is touted as the first ever precision medicine therapy in T1D – a treatment tailored to a particular subgroup of people, often targeting natural genetic variations present in that group.

Extended results from teplizumab trial published

Extended findings from a clinical trial of teplizumab have been published, confirming results presented at last year’s ADA Scientific Sessions. The new publication shows that teplizumab delays the onset of insulin dependence by approximately three years in people at high risk of T1D. Teplizumab is on track to be approved in the US later this year, becoming the first available therapy to delay T1D onset.

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