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Nov 29, 2015 07:16 AM EST

Immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes found safe in first trial

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A team of doctors and scientists from the University of California, San Francisco has conducted a trial for immunotherapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the United States, Tech Times reports.

The new therapy employs regulatory T cells called Tregs to reduce the immune system's attack on the beta cells, but retains its capabilities to fight off infection.

Results found no adverse reactions among the participants who received infusions containing as much as 2.6 billion cells that defend the body's insulin-production abilities.

"This could be a game-changer ... [b]y using Tregs to 're-educate' the immune system, we may be able to really change the course of this disease," said Jeffrey A. Bluestone, UCSF's Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Metabolism and Endocrinology who is the study's first author.

The Phase 1 trial was conducted at the UCSF by Dr. Stephen E. Gitelman, professor of pediatrics and at the Yale School of Medicine by Dr. Kevan C. Herold. The patients in the Phase 1 study ranged between 18 to 43 years old.

The Tregs used in the Phase 1 trial were obtained from the participants themselves.

The team employed the 'isolation and expansion' method that was first discussed by Bluestone and his research team in 2009.

"Using a patient's own cells -- identifying them, isolating them, expanding them, and infusing them back into the patient -- is an exciting new pillar for drug development," said Bluestone, according to ScienceDaily.

"and we expect Tregs to be an important part of diabetes therapy in the future."

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