An Australian world-first clinical trial is offering new hope to children and families living with type 1 diabetes.
The BANDIT trial, which is happening now, is aiming to free children with type 1 diabetes from the routine of daily insulin injections.
Treatment involves using a drug currently used for rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, and other conditions.
Searching for a new type 1 treatment
Adelaide University paediatrics professor Jennifer Couper said, “If successful, taking a daily Baricitinib tablet could help someone newly diagnosed type 1 to continue to produce insulin for longer and improve their body’s control of blood glucose levels.
“If we can use medication at the beginning to ‘turn off’, or slow down, the attack on the insulin producing cells, it will be much easier,” Prof Couper said.
“The way in which we deliver and monitor insulin levels has improved but it is still very intensive. The day-to-day burden can be enormous, on children with diabetes as well as their families.
An Australian first study
“This is the first Australian-grown and-initiated study to help people with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. It is the holy grail, if you like.
We’ve understood for some time how someone gets type 1 diabetes but turning off that process safely has been difficult.
“This medication interferes with signals that stimulate the immune system and quietens it in relation to the insulin-making cells.
“It has been used in arthritis and other rarer conditions in very young children for well over 10 years.”
Type 1 diabetes in Australia
More than 127,000 Australians live with type 1 diabetes. 3,756 were diagnosed in the past year which is just above 10 each day. That is a lot of Australian’s who are managing their diabetes with daily insulin injections.
A case study
Julia Britto-Monteiro, a teenager who lives in Adelaide, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in November last year. She has signed up for the trial being run out of Adelaide’s Women and Children’s Hospital, in the hope it will help other young people.
Julia is required to take four insulin injections daily, before each main meal as well as an additional shot and must carefully monitor her intake of carbohydrates.
“The most challenging thing is to constantly have to think about it, it is really demanding and it is forever. It would be so much easier not to have it constantly at the back of your head,” she said.
Who is leading the study
Led by Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research the trial is targeted at people aged 12 to 30 years old who have been diagnosed in the past 100 days.