I just had a feature published in Popular Science that I think might be of interest to others with Type 1. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, right after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 9 years ago, I enrolled in a trial for a new drug called an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (best known as teplizumab and being studied in a trial called Protege that is currently recruiting recently diagnosed diabetics to participate). The drug’s goal: to “reprogram” my immune system into not killing off insulin-producing cells, thus prolonging the honeymoon period and likely making blood sugars easier to control. The result of my experience? I got the drug nearly a decade ago and I’m still making a measurable — if marginal — amount of insulin. I’m by no means cured, but damn, am I grateful to have given the drug a try.
For all my positive experience with the trial, though, I’ll admit that I never got much beyond learning how to pronounce “anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody” (try saying that three times fast). What is it? How do researchers think it might work? What effects might it have on auto-immune diseases beyond just Type 1 diabetes?
I recently got the chance not just to learn about this myself, but to write about it for Popular Science — and the result, a feature called “Rebooting the Body,” is in this month’s (March’s) issue, on newsstands now. Here’s a link to a digital copy (a revised one, which should work) — though please consider picking up a hard copy to support them for running it! I wanted to give a heads-up that it might be of interest not just to people who have been recently diagnosed (if you have, you should definitely look up the ongoing trials) but to anyone with a family history of Type 1: Kevan Herold at Yale is heading a new round of trials to see if the drug might be actually able to *prevent* Type 1 in people who have a high risk of getting it. There are tests available to get a sense of your chances.
And also: as you may already know, one of the main issues in transplanting insulin-producing cells — whether they be from stem cells, pig cells, flowers, or anything else — is figuring out how to prevent the same part of your immune system that caused Type 1 in the first place from killing off those cells again. Anti-CD3 monoclonal antibodies might be a solution to this problem — if you combine a new source of insulin-producing cells with a means to protect them, well, you’re getting yourself closer to a cure.
Anyway, if you have access to a paper copy, check it out — if not, I’ll try to post a digital version here.
On a less inspirational note: this morning, I dropped my pump into the toilet.