A new therapy for Type 1 diabetes could be in the pipeline thanks to a new project at King’s College London which has received a £2.3m Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust.
It is hoped the new therapy – being developed at the King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre – will control the autoimmune responses that cause inflammation which leads to diabetes and prevent it from developing.
The project – a culmination of drug discovery efforts from the Department of Immunobiology – will develop a drug called MultiPepT1DE, in a strategy called peptide immunotherapy.
“Peptide immunotherapy is being explored in other diseases, such as allergies and multiple sclerosis, using cocktails of peptides and shows considerable promise and potential for long-lasting effects,” said Professor Mark Peakman.
MultiPepT1De will consist of a cocktail of peptides which are involved in the autoimmune response to diabetes and will be developed as a therapeutic that counters the immune attack of β-cells while leaving the rest of the immune system intact. By introducing selected fragments of key proteins from β-cells in a form that switches off inflammation, it’s hoped the immune system will be reset.
“We have pinpointed the key peptides involved in Type 1 diabetes, and we are hopeful that this could lead to an effective preventative treatment for children and adults who may be at risk of developing the condition,” said Peakman.
“MultiPepT1De has some important advantages over current approaches to the prevention of Type 1 diabetes, especially its ability to avoid global immune suppression which is a problem with several other approaches under consideration.”
The project will focus on the physico-chemical, immunological and toxicological properties of the β-cell peptides, and is expected to be completed in 2014 before advancing to clinical trials.