Local diabetes study earns spotlight
Safety trials of a medical technique that could reverse Type 1 diabetes might be completed by year's end at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the lead researcher told diabetes experts gathered Wednesday in Miami.
"We've had very positive results so far," Dr. Massimo Trucco, director of immunogenetics at Children's Hospital, said about the first phase of the trials that are testing the technique's safety. "We have to first prove that this is safe. When we pass that goal, the second step will be to prove its efficacy."
The trials, which began in July, involve injecting patients with their own immune cells -- after they have been genetically altered so they can block the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Such a technique has proven effective in mice. Trucco and his colleagues are eager to test the technique in children -- a population at high risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.
The trials do not involve children. Instead, researchers are using the technique on 18-year-olds who are able to give consent to the experiments. Five people have been enrolled so far, and four of them have started to receive the injections. Trucco's goal is to enroll 10 more people in the trial.
None of the participants has shown any sign of side effects, such as rash or fever, said Trucco, who also is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh.
If successful, the technique could be a weapon against Type 1 diabetes -- a disease that robs people of their ability to produce insulin and forces them to rely on daily doses of insulin to survive.
The research at Children's was one of several approaches discussed over the past four days at a meeting of the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Study Group -- which includes researchers from more than 150 medical centers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.
Trucco said more extensive studies of the technique's efficacy could start in the spring.
The injections are made with so-called dendritic cells isolated from the patient's own blood. Study participants receive three injections a week for six weeks. Half of the participants are in a control group, which means they are getting injections of cells that have not been altered.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.