Posted on Sep 25, 2013

Type 1 diabetes affects many Americans across the U.S. But researchers have found that a drug formerly used to treat psoriasis could be offering type 1 patients new hope.

Amevive, which was formerly used to treat psoriasis has components that would make it effective against combatting type 1 diabetes. BBC reports on a trial using patients across the U.S.; it found that Amevive (also known as alefacept) helps the body produce its own insulin and this is essential for treating type 1 diabetes.

The study shows that the drug may be better than other treatments because it also protects the immune system. The drug ends up having this effect because it was originally created to treat psoriasis, which is caused by an auto immune system disorder where the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. According to BBC, “In clinical trials of the drug on psoriasis, the drug was found to attack specific types of T-cells that were also involved in attacking insulin-producing cells in type 1 diabetes.”  

In the study, which was conducted at Indiana University, the group that was administered the drug was able to preserve insulin after eating whereas the group given the placebo was not. The group receiving the drug also had fewer incidents of hyperglycemia (also known as low blood glucose levels), which is a common problem among type 1 diabetes patients.

The study’s lead author said the findings are very encouraging and provide reason to believe that with the drug pancreas cell function could be preserved during the first 12 months after a patient being diagnosed. The study is ongoing as researchers are looking to decipher how much the drug could stabilize type 1 diabetes in patients. The chief executive of the type 1 diabetes charity that helped fund the study stated, “The results of the study appear worthy of further exploration. Small steps forward such as this take us closer to a world without type 1 diabetes.” The study’s results have been published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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