Trial could lead to new treatment for type 1 diabetes

St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) in Melbourne is leading a clinical trial to test a treatment intended to stop the immune system from destroying the insulin-producing cells of people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

Professor Helen Thomas, from SVI said, “When type 1 diabetes is first diagnosed there is a substantial number of insulin-producing cells still present.

The BANDIT Trial

The BANDIT (baricitinib in new onset type 1 diabetes) Trial will help determine if the drug baricitinib, currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, will protect the insulin-producing cells from immune attack.

This would allow people who have recently been diagnosed with the disease to continue to produce insulin for a longer period and improve their glucose control.”

People between 12-30 years old who have recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are being sought to take part in the two-year trial.

What participants can expect

During the first year, participants will be required to attend a trial site once a month and take either a baricitinib or a placebo tablet once a day.

In the second year, participants will be required to visit their trial site on two occasions for follow up to check blood glucose and other levels.

The BANDIT Trial will run at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.

People with type 1 diabetes who have been diagnosed in the last 100 days, and are between the ages of 12-30, are eligible. More information at the SVI website.

What it could mean for people with type 1

People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin injections to regulate their blood glucose levels. This has been the mainstay of treatment since insulin’s discovery almost 100 years ago.

However, despite its life-saving role, long-term complications of the condition include heart attack, stroke, vision impairment, kidney disease and nerve damage.

“It is tremendously exciting for us to be the first group anywhere in the world to test the efficacy of baricitinib as a potential type 1 diabetes treatment,” said Professor Tom Kay, Director of SVI, lead investigator of the BANDIT Trial.

“If the trial proves successful, production of insulin will be maintained and people with type 1 diabetes will be significantly less dependent on insulin treatment.”

JDRF and international funding is supporting the trial.

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