A treatment for Type 1 diabetes developed by Prof. Irun Cohen of the Institute’s Immunology Department has met both the primary and secondary goals of phase III clinical trials. Andromeda Biotech, which is licensed by Yeda Research and Development, Ltd. (the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute) to develop the treatment, reported that it had been tested on 457 patients who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a short time before the trial. From the initial results, those who received the treatment – DiaPep277® – in the double-blinded test appeared to have significantly higher pancreas function than those in the control group. The trial took place over a period of two years, during which one group received DiaPep277® injections every three months and the control group was given a placebo. All received insulin, as needed, to control glucose levels.
DiaPep277® is a unique peptide derived from the sequence of the human heat shock protein 60 (Hsp60). The peptide acts by modulating the immune system, preventing the destruction of the pancreatic cells that secrete insulin and preserving their natural function. Treatment of Type 1 diabetes patients with DiaPep277® may have several medical benefits: slowing the deterioration of the diseased tissue, improving metabolic control and reducing daily insulin requirements as well as the complications of diabetes.
The research and development team at Andromeda Biotech are currently working on a full assessment of the efficacy and safety data, and they are planning to conduct another clinical trial later this year.
Prof. Irun Cohen’s research is supported by the Laszlo N Tauber Family Foundation.