Juvenile diabetes can be cured
Up to 1922, juvenile diabetes (type 1 diabetes) was a lethal disease. Until the Canadian researchers Banting and Best, with help of the chemist Collip, extracted insulin from stock intended for slaughtering which they injected in children being in the terminal phase of juvenile diabetes (photo). Thus the disease appeared treatable. The children recovered, grew up and became adults. But daily insulin injections and a meticulous monitoring of the blood sugar level have since been part of the life of all juvenile diabetics, up until the present day.
In 1922, Leonard Thompson was the first patient with juvenile diabetes to be treated with insulin;
he was 14 at the time. The photo on the right shows him 6 months later.
Thanks to a drug that is ranked among the so-called ADCs (Antibody-Drug Conjugates), it now seems possible to cure juvenile diabetes, so that daily treatments with insulin and repeated glucose checks are no longer necessary. ADCs are injectable fluids that have been used for a few years now to treat certain types of cancer. They yield better treatment results and are less toxic for the patient compared to customary chemotherapy as they only affect cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
A similar ADC can be used to destroy selectively derailed immune cells in the pancreas of type 1 diabetics, while the rest of the immune system remains intact. Once the malefactors have been eliminated, the remaining β-cells will once again produce insulin. Making an ADC of this kind is not problematic: a monoclonal antibody (oktolimumab) that selectively affixes to these derailed immune cells can be produced by cloning such cells. These can be found in the pancreas of type 1 diabetics during post mortems. Next, oktolimumab can be conjugated to, for example, vedotin. Which is a chemotherapeutic drug that is in use today in an ADC for cancer therapy (brentuximab-vedotin or Adcetris®). However, registration of that new drug to make oktolimumab-vedotin as a medication to cure juvenile diabetes will take 7 to 10 years and will cost a fortune.
Sint-Michielsgestel, September 2017
Leo Rogier Verberne
© Leo Rogier Verberne