Israeli scientists block the progression of Type I diabetes

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 bodys 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 us

Contact: Jeffrey Sussman
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science

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