Israeli scientists block the progression of Type I diabetes

November 22, 2001

Rehovot, Israel -- November 26, 2001--A team of researchers led by Prof. Irun Cohen of the Weizmann Institute of Science has developed a unique approach for halting the progression of Type I (juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Cohen and Dr. Dana Elias (then a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute) discovered that injecting mice with a small peptide fragment known as p277 prevents the progression of Type I diabetes. Based on the results of his research, Peptor, a biopharmaceutical company from Rehovot, Israel, developed DiaPep277, an experimental drug designed to prevent or treat Type I diabetes.

A recent clinical study performed by researchers at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School and Peptor Ltd. proved that DiaPep277 is successful in arresting the progression of Type I diabetes in newly diagnosed patients. The research findings are published in the November 24, issue of The Lancet.

The study was of 35 patients newly diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Eighteen patients received injections of DiaPep277 at the beginning of the study, at one month, and at six months; 17 patients received three injections of an inert substance (placebo). Patients in the treatment group (those receiving DiaPep277) showed a halt or delay in the attack upon, or destruction of their pancreatic insulin-producing cells by the immune system. These results were evident in the level of the body's own insulin production and in a decreased need for insulin injections. The researchers were able to trace the mechanism of this improvement to changes in the patients' immune lymphocytes called T-cells. In contrast, patients receiving the placebo showed a significant decline in their natural insulin production and a persistent rise in the need for insulin injections. No significant side effects as a result of injecting DiaPep277 were found.

Diabetes is a chronic disease associated with elevated blood sugar levels, in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin - a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Recent data show that between 120 and 140 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide.

Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes usually results from an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own insulin-producing pancreatic cells, reducing and ultimately eliminating all insulin production. In contrast, Type II diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to properly use insulin. All Type I diabetes patients (and the more severe Type II cases) must supplement their natural insulin production with insulin injections.

For the past several years, researchers at the Weizmann Institute's Department of Immunology led by Professor Cohen have been studying the mechanism by which the immune system destroys the insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Working with mice, the scientists discovered that a particular protein called HSP60 was closely linked to this destructive process. The protein acts like an antigen, prompting the immune cells to attack. Further investigation revealed that injecting sick mice with p277 - a small peptide fragment of the HSP60 protein - shut down the immune response, preventing the progression of Type I diabetes. "The peptide essentially acts to "reeducate" the immune cells, switching off their destructive activity," Cohen explains. "The idea for using p277 stemmed from the discovery that the immune system has different options to choose from in responding to an antigen. It can act to destroy the antigen or alternatively protect it from destruction. In this case it indirectly prevents the pancreatic cells from being destroyed."

The scientists participating in this study are: Professor Itamar Raz and Dr. Muriel Metzger from Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School, Dr. Dana Elias (now VP R&D at Peptor Ltd.), Dr. Ann Avron, and Dr. Merana Tamir from Peptor Ltd.
Donor support: The Robert Koch Minerva Center for Research in Autoimmune Disease, the Yeshaya Horowitz Association and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Theodore Cohen of Chicago, Il. Prof. Cohen is the incumbent of the Helen and Morris Mauerberger Professorial Chair in Immunology.

The Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's foremost centers of scientific research and graduate study. Its 2,500 scientists, students, technicians and engineers pursue basic research in the quest for knowledge and to enhance the quality of human life. New ways of fighting disease and hunger, protecting the environment, and harnessing alternative sources of energy are high priorities at Weizmann.

American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to