Researchers from King’s College London and Cardiff University in the UK have reported positive results from the new MonoPepT1De clinical trial using immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes.

During the trial, patients were injected with small peptide fragments of the protein molecules obtained from the beta cells of the pancreas.

The trial was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Guy’s and St Thomas’, as well as Diabetes UK and JDRF.

Belgian biopharmaceutical firm UCB Biopharma acquired an exclusive licence to MonopepT1De from King’s College London.

The MonoPepT1De results indicated that the immune system can be guided to slow the progression of the disease and the researchers observed significant changes in the behaviour of the immune systems of patients who were administered with the peptides.

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Trial’s lead researcher professor Mark Peakman said: “When someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes they still typically have between 15% and 20% of their beta cells. We wanted to see if we could protect these remaining cells by retraining the immune system to stop attacking them.

"We still have a long way to go, but these early results suggest we are heading in the right direction."

“We still have a long way to go, but these early results suggest we are heading in the right direction. The peptide technology used in our trial is not only appears to be safe for patients at this stage, but it also has a noticeable effect on the immune system.”

The patients treated with MonoPepT1De were found to require less amount of insulin to control their blood glucose levels, indicating a better working of the pancreas.

Based on these results, researchers expect that immunotherapies might aid in prevention of development of the disease in high risk individuals as well as inhibit disease progression.

King’s and UCB also intend to perform a Phase Ib safety trial of next generation product, MultipepT1De, to which UCB obtained the worldwide exclusive licence.

Image: Patients in the type 1 diabetes trial were injected with peptides. Photo: courtesy of King's College London.