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I have a 16 year old, with newly diagnosed diabetes. Is there any consensus yet on using immunotherapy for Type 1 Diabetes?


Yes; the consensus is: It's still experimental.


Additional Comments from Dr. O'Brien:

Immunotherapy for newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes has been consistantly disappointing. Steroids, Imuran, nicotinamide (with and without Vitamin E), cyclosporin and BCG have all been tried. Cyclosporin seemed rather promising at first with early trials in Canada and France; but the effect turned out to be transitory and there was the long term danger of kidney damage.

On the other hand, "immunotherapy" started in the very earliest stages of the disorder really does look hopeful. This is sometimes talked about as "prevention" which it really is not; but in fact the treatment of first degree relatives of known case of Type 1 diabetes with either nicotinamide or insulin. Oral insulin is also being tried for its effect in modifying the abnormal immune response.

There is some evidence from New Zealand that nicotinamide may delay, or prevent, the onset of diabetes in individuals who have strongly positive antibodies (i.e., who appear to be on the downward slope to diabetes). However, it is too early to say and a large and carefully controlled study is currently underway to answer the question.


Original posting 16 Aug 96


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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