So, I just got back from a trip home to the east coast to see my family, and decided that while I was at it, I should try to visit my old endocrinologist, Kevan Herold, who’s currently at Yale. Right after I was diagnosed I was lucky enough to be a participant in a study Dr. Herold was helping conduct on an anti-cd3 antibody that ended up being big news in the diabetes research community — by using an antibody against my own antibodies, the drug helped “reprogram” my immune system so that I stopped killing off my insulin-producing cells. (For more info on the study, click here.) Two years out, I was showing a slight increase in insulin production compared to when I was diagnosed. Very exciting.
It’s now been eight years since I found out I had diabetes, and Dr. Herold and his colleagues are conducting a follow-up study to see how long the effects of the drug lasted. In other words, they had me come in and do some blood tests to see how much insulin I am or am not still producing.
In a practical sense, this meant spending the morning in the hospital doing a mixed meal tolerance test — you drink a sugary drink and then have your blood drawn about 11 times over the course of the next 5 hours to see how much insulin your body is able to produce. The results of the follow-up aren’t in yet, but participating in the trial re-inspired me to find out more about what’s going on in diabetic research.
One particularly exciting study which others might find interesting is the possibility of using this particular drug as a potential vaccine for Type 1 diabetes. Herold and his colleagues are looking at people who have both a family member with diabetes and test positive for several diabetes-related antibodies (and who are below a certain age — I can’t remember what exactly) — risk factors which, when all present, have been found to have a 90 percent prediction rate for whether or not you’ll get Type 1. If the study works, it’ll be the closest we’ll have come to a vaccine for the disease. Pretty exciting stuff.