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Resetting the immune system

02 May 2012

Congratulations to Professor Mark Peakman, from King’s College London who today launches a new project to develop an immune therapy for type 1.

Professor Peakman and his team have been working on a new drug that can supress the immune response that causes type 1 but leave the rest of the immune system unaffected. This project, which is supported by the Wellcome Trust aims to complete the laboratory testing of the drug and bring it to human trials by 2014.

The drug, called MultiPepTIDe, contains different peptides that are usually involved in the immune response that causes type 1 but researchers believe that they can use these peptides to switch off this immune response and effectively ‘reset’ the immune system.

MultiPepTIDe could stop the part of the immune system that attacks beta cells and protect the remaining beta cells from destruction so that they can continue producing insulin. An added benefit of this approach is that the drug selectively stops the part of the immune system that attacks beta cells and leaves the rest of the immune system intact so that the body can still fight infections.

As part of the same development programme, Professor Peakman is currently working on a JDRF funded project that is also trying to retrain the immune system not to attack beta cells. This drug, called Proinsulin Peptide, has already completed safety trials in humans and the team are now beginning a second clinical trial to determine whether there are signs of clinical efficacy. 

Professor Peakman sees the Wellcome Trust award as complementary to the current JDRF-funded programme. “Getting any new drug to the stage of testing in man is exciting, and we have started on that pathway with the proinsulin peptide. That has helped us to secure the Wellcome Trust support for the next iteration of peptide-based therapeutics, called MultiPepT1De, in which we will combine several of the key beta cell peptides into a single drug”.

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