Use of antiviral medication shown to preserve insulin production in children with new-onset type 1 diabetes
Oslo, Norway and New York, Oct. 4, 2023 – Results of a recent study have shown that antiviral medication can help preserve insulin production in children and young people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
The results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Hamburg, Germany and were published in Nature Medicine.
Led by Knut Dahl-Jørgensen, M.D. and senior professor at University of Oslo (UiO), the study built upon research that previously established a link between enterovirus and T1D and investigated the effect of antiviral treatment on insulin production. Those recently diagnosed with T1D who received the antiviral medication maintained a higher level of insulin production after one year than those who did not take the medication, demonstrating that the treatment can slow the progression of T1D.
“We know through our previous research that a chronic enterovirus infection is present in the pancreas of those newly diagnosed patients we’ve studied,” said Knut Dahl-Jørgensen, M.D., senior professor at UiO. “We wanted to see if the virus was a trigger for developing type 1 diabetes and if we could slow the progression of the disease by addressing the virus. We’ve shown that antiviral medication can be effective for preserving insulin production, meaning it may be possible to treat and slow down type 1 diabetes with medication and maybe eventually prevent the disease.”
Diabetes is a serious disease and can lead to long-term complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, and reduced lifespan. By stopping the virus before it destroys all the insulin-producing cells, patients may have a milder disease to manage, with more stable blood-sugar levels and fewer serious complications in the long run.
The study was funded by JDRF, the leading global T1D research and advocacy organization. It was a collaboration conducted in Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark. The researchers collaborated with over twenty international research laboratories on the study and are partners in the INNODIA consortium.
“The preservation of insulin production is critical in new-onset type 1 diabetes. JDRF is encouraged by the results of this study that demonstrate the ability of antiviral medication to slow type 1 diabetes progression in young people recently diagnosed,” said Josh Vieth, Ph.D., director of research at JDRF. “Development of disease-modifying therapies for type 1 diabetes is a key focus area and high priority for JDRF, and these results are a promising step forward.”
JDRF’s mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2.5 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally and globally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a global stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement, and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter (@JDRF), Facebook (@myjdrf), and Instagram (@jdrfhq).
About Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)
T1D is an autoimmune condition that causes the pancreas to make very little insulin or none at all. This leads to dependence on insulin therapy and the risk of short or long-term complications, which can include highs and lows in blood sugar; damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and heart; and even death if left untreated. Globally, it impacts nearly 9 million people. Many believe T1D is only diagnosed in childhood and adolescence, but diagnosis in adulthood is common and accounts for nearly 50% of all T1D diagnoses. The onset of T1D has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. There is currently no cure for T1D.
Knut Dahl-Jørgensen, Oslo University Hospital and University of Oslo
phone: +47 922 33 550