Immunotherapy for treatment of type 1 diabetes

A new form of immunotherapy could lead to better treatment of type 1 diabetes.


Head Researcher

Prof Ranjeny Thomas

Team Members  
Body Part Pancreas
Equipment Used Centre for Clinical Genomics at TRI
Process Used Massive parallel sequencing
Research Areas

Immunotherapy

Disease List any diseases this research considers
Tags diabetes, pancreas, insulin, glucose, immunotheraphy
Commercial Partnerships  
Institutions UQDI, JDRF Australia

About the Project

UQ researcher Professor Ranjeny Thomas said the therapy aims to rebalance the immune system of children with type 1 diabetes, correcting the immune damage and therefore protecting the cells that make insulin.

“People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin because their immune system mistakenly attacks proteins in pancreatic beta cells that store and release insulin,” Professor Thomas said.

“Currently there is no treatment, apart from insulin, for people suffering type 1 diabetes.

“We have developed an immunotherapy using a small fat particle that encapsulates an ‘immune red flag’ protein from the pancreas, along with a drug to calm the immune response.”

Professor Thomas said the immunotherapy had been successful in controlling the disease in mice and the research team were now working toward clinical trials, to begin in about two years.

“We are excited to leverage the immune system’s potential to heal itself, which is a completely different approach to insulin replacement,” Professor Thomas said.

Type 1 diabetes affects more than 120,000 Australians and usually occurs in childhood.

Professor Thomas said the researchers were working with a cohort of patients from the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to determine appropriate candidates for clinical trials of immunotherapy.

To support this work, UQ has been awarded approximately AU$1.58 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, to be administered by JDRF Australia.

Translational Research - Milestone T2

This project is at T2 on TRI's translational pathway, with recruitment underway for clinical trials which are expected to start in 2019. 

> Please contact [email protected] for further information about this project