Years of JDRF-funded, promising basic research helped enable the first type 1 diabetes clinical study of a drug called imatinib – a milestone for JDRF’s Restoration Program.
JDRF is funding a new, multi-million dollar clinical study of imatinib for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Imatinib (brand name Gleevec®) is a drug currently approved and marketed to treat certain types of cancers. The study will test whether newly diagnosed people with T1D can maintain their beta cell function or slow the progression of the disease by taking this drug. The effect of taking the drug for six months will be compared to what happens in a group of untreated people with T1D followed for the same timeframe. Hopefully, the people taking the drug will maintain more insulin production capability compared to the untreated people taking the placebo or sugar pill. If successful, this could open another path towards changing the course of T1D and an important step in JDRF’s Restoration Research Program. The study has just been launched and will take several years to complete.
Years of basic and animal research are always necessary before giving an experimental drug to people in a clinical trial. JDRF-funded scientists have been interested in the potential use of imatinib in T1D for some time because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its effects on various components of the immune system. In one JDRF-funded lab study, a 10-week treatment with imatinib resulted in a significant and lasting remission of T1D in a mouse model of diabetes. Based on additional research funded by JDRF and others, the drug appears to have multiple positive effects in T1D, including: slowing the immune system attack on beta cells, reducing beta cell stress and death, and increasing beta cell growth and replication. Some of these animal results were reported nationally several years ago on NBC Nightly News. Because of JDRF support, this new study is the beginning of the next phase of progress for this potential T1D therapy.
Find out more about this clinical study at ClinicalTrials.gov: Imatinib Treatment in Recent Onset T1D.