Is this a Cure?

I’m currently participating in a trial of a new drug called BHT-3021. This is a drug designed to tolerize the immune system to proinsulin, thereby turning off the self directed immune attack.

Does this have the potential to be the cure we have been waiting for?

Read more here

This is one of several treatments that are facilitated by JDRF’s Industry Discovery and Development Partnership (IDDP) program, through which the JDRF provides early-stage research funding to drug and/or biotech companies working on technologies and therapeutic candidates, and then partners them with existing drug/biotech companies to bring these molecules to commercialization (assuming, of course, that they pass the clinical trials). This drug is intended to create “immune tolerance” to pancreatic beta cells, but most type 1s have no beta cells remaining, so unless those cells are either regenerated or replaced by transplantation, it’s not enough to be considered a cure. This drug is unlikely to do be a cure by itself, although it could be a valuable component in a series of therapies that could set the stage for curing type 1 diabetes. The scientific consensus seems to be almost universal in the view that any cure for type 1 diabetes will require several components. In the words of Dr. Alexander Fleming “a uniformly effective therapeutic pathway
to address all forms of diabetes would be to reverse the restrictions on beta-cell and islet regeneration imposed
during the developmental process. Definitive therapeutic approaches will also include control of the autoimmune
processes of type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and the metabolic defects underlying type 2 diabetes (T2DM), but the sine qua non for curing any form of established diabetes is to restore lost beta cells.”

So, to answer your question, it may be 1 component of a cure (assuming it tests successfully in Phase 1-3 human clinical trials and then is approved by drug regulatory authorities), but a cure will require another component to replace the lost pancreatic beta cell mass as well. There are, however, a few therapies that are also working on that, among them exsulin (formerly known as INGAP) and another from JDRF’s IDDP program with Toronto-based Transition Therapeutics, Inc./and Eli Lilly & Co.

I’ve addressed some of these collectively on my blog at http://sstrumello.blogspot.com/2009/06/jdrf-reports-new-progress-in.html, which you can check out.