Melbourne medical researchers believe an anti-cancer drug may hold the key for people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the only Australian hospital to host the GleeT1D clinical study, will test whether a drug called Gleevec improves insulin levels in people with type 1 diabetes.
Dr John Wentworth, Endocrinologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital and Clinical Scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall, said the new trial was an important step towards a cure for type 1 diabetes.
“Through this study we hope to prove that the drug, Gleevec, can slow or stop the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells that causes type 1 diabetes,” Dr Wentworth said.
“Based on previous research, we believe that immune-modulating medications will stop or delay the destruction of beta cells that occurs soon after diabetes is diagnosed. This should improve blood glucose control and reduce the need for insulin injections.
“When a person has an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks their own healthy cells and tissues, which in the case of type 1 diabetes decreases the ability of their beta cells to produce insulin.
“We are looking for a treatment that can be taken for a short period of time that will fundamentally change the autoimmune response, so the body can repair its own insulin-producing beta cells.”
Dr Wentworth added the drug, Gleevec, was an approved drug treatment for children with chronic myeloid leukemia and other forms of cancer.
“With more than 120,000 Australians currently living with type 1 diabetes, clinical trials like GleeT1D are vital in helping medical researchers develop insight and, hopefully, a cure for this life-long autoimmune disease,” Dr Wentworth said.
To be eligible to take part in the study you must be 12 – 45 years old and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes less than three months ago.
To find more information and to register your interest in taking part in the GleeT1D clinical trials phone +613 9342 7063.