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New Drug Promising for Type 1

separator An experimental drug that was tested on 12 people appears to be able to stop the destruction of the islet cells that produce insulin. The medication’s effects lasted for at least one year. 

The drug is a new version of drug called OKT3, which was has been used to help prevent transplant rejection. It was given for two weeks, soon after patients received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Patients remained able to continue making some insulin on their own months after taking the drug. This decreased their need for injected insulin.

The medication is not a cure for type 1, because by the time the condition is diagnosed, patients have already lost too many islet cells. But being able to produce even a small amount of insulin on their own makes it easier for patients to control their blood sugar, which reduces the risk of long-term complications.

Researchers speculate that it may be possible to prevent the onset of type 1 by giving OKT3 to people before their islet cells have been destroyed.

The New England Journal of Medicine, 29 May 2002
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