When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was asked to participate in a clinical study for a diabetes “vaccine” called Diapep277. I didn’t know anything about it (nor did I know anything about diabetes). At the time, what convinced me to enter the study was not a belief that my diabetes would disappear, but the fact that I’d have a team of endocrinologists looking after me closely for a year. After losing twenty pounds, having my vision go blurry, and losing feeling in my toes, nothing was more appealing than a year of good doctors taking care of me.
The doctors administering the trial explained to me that although what I was getting could not cure me it could slow down the process of beta cell destruction or maybe even halt it (if I was actually getting the real thing). Like many newly diagnosed type 1’s, I was enjoying a honeymoon period and injecting very little insulin.
For the first few months of the experiment I went to the hospital once every other week, received an injection of some sort (I didn’t know if it was Diapep277 or the placebo) and then had glucagon injected into my vein. After that, the doctor took blood from my arm every few minutes for a while. I don’t remember if it was an hour or two, but they took a large number of vials.
In a way, I enjoyed my hospital days, which my bosses at the time where very understanding about. It was a half day off of work and a break from my usual routine. Plus, when I met with the other study participants it was a chance (in the days before the DOC) to meet other people with diabetes. However, let me say a word or two about the glucagon injection. Horrible nausea! I literally spent three minutes wishing I were dead every time I got it.
After the first two or three months of the study, the hospital visits became less frequent until I was told the trial was over. Although when I’d started I was told I’d be informed at the trial’s end whether I’d received the drug or the placebo, I never heard anything. A few years later, I asked someone working in the diabetes clinic at hospital about it and was told that I had received the real thing and not the placebo. I don’t, however, have that in writing. If I did in fact get the drug, I don’t know which dose I received.
Sometime around the end of my first year as a diabetic my honeymoon period ended. It didn’t happen all at once, but with time I was injecting 30-50 units a day depending on the diet I followed. Because of this I always assumed the trial was not successful, and that it didn’t do me any good.
A couple months ago, after I read Karmel Allison’s blog post about C-peptide and diabetes complications, I decided to ask my doctor to include a C-peptide test on my last blood work. If I still had some C-peptide, perhaps it would be sign that Diapep277 had been good to me. It took over a week for the results to come in, but it was worth the wait.
Although it doesn’t seem like it (especially after my last race), my body still produces some insulin. My C-peptide is 111. This is of course way out of the normal range which is 298 to 2350 (according to my lab), but it is still far from zero.
I’m in the process of trying to find out for certain if I received the drug, and if so at which dose. And then it will be easier to guess whether the Phase II Diapep 277 trial has anything to do with it my current C-peptide level.
*Images are taken from the AndromedA Biotech web site.