New treatment to delay Type 1 diabetes could be close to approval

Published: June 23, 2021 6:11 PM EDT
Updated: June 23, 2021 6:13 PM EDT

The injection of a lifetime is in the works. A revolutionary drug could soon be approved to delay Type 1 diabetes. We looked at how the shot would work, what it will take for it to become a reality and spoke to those for whom this would be a game changer.

About three years ago, doctors diagnosed Stephanie Rochelle’s son, Finn, with Type 1 diabetes.

“They finger pricked him, and his sugar then was 380,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle says — because Finn was so little — doctors had difficulty drawing his blood and had to pin him down. But the strain followed the family outside of the hospital too.

“Eight, 10, 12 finger pricks a day. Eight, 10, 12 injections a day,” Rochelle explained. “I had to quit my job. I walked away from a very good career.”

Rochelle says Finn needed constant care to manage his diabetes. But as he’s getting older, it’s getting easier.

“He is understanding if I say, ‘Give yourself 50 carbs; treat yourself for 50 carbs,’” Rochelle said. “He knows what it is. At two, he obviously can’t do it himself.”

A new drug is offering hope to families like Rochelle’s.

Teplizumab is an injection that stops the immune cells that trigger Type 1 diabetes. Trial patients received two weeks of treatment. More than 900 day later, 50% of patients remained diabetes free.

Back in May, and FDA advisory panel voted in favor of approving the drug. The FDA is expected to make a final decision Friday, July 2.

Rochelle says, while it isn’t a cure, the extra time would be a great step forward.

“I probably would have kept my job at least a little while longer until we could have figured out a solution to our problem,” Rochelle said. “The learning curve wouldn’t have been so big.”

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