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Immune therapies for type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system attacks the cells that make and release insulin. A big part of treating, preventing and curing type 1 diabetes is developing drugs that act on the immune system, which are called immune therapies. Drugs which can interfere with the biological mechanism of a disease, like immune therapies, are also referred to as disease-modifying therapies.
Content last reviewed and updated: 27.03.2024

In this section

A microscopic image of immune cells in the spleen. Immune therapies are being researched as part of trying to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Are there immune treatments for type 1?

Researchers are finding and testing immune therapies which can slow the immune attack that causes type 1 and preserve some of the beta cells. These drugs are at various stages of the research pipeline, ranging from being in early clinical trials to being licensed for the public in some countries.


Teplizumab is the world’s first disease-modifying therapy for type 1 diabetes. Clinical trials found daily injections of the drug for two weeks delayed the onset of type 1 for up to three years. In November 2022, the US approved teplizumab for people in the earliest stages of developing type 1 diabetes.

The drug approval organisation in the UK, the MHRA, has given teplizumab an ‘Innovation Passport’, which aims to accelerate the time it takes for teplizumab to reach people in the UK.

Find out more about teplizumab in our FAQs about teplizumab.


Verapamil is a drug that treats high blood pressure. People with medical conditions including angina (chest pain) and irregular heart rate take verapamil to improve blood flow to their heart. Researchers are discovering it also has the potential to treat type 1 diabetes.

A clinical trial, which we funded, found that verapamil slowed the progression of type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed children and adolescents. More JDRF-funded clinical trials are taking place to continue to test verapamil in more people with type 1.

Find out more about the ongoing Ver-A-T1D clinical trial of verapamil, part of a JDRF-funded clinical trials platform.


Ustekinumab is an immunotherapy drug which is already used to treat other autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis. Researchers in the UK are now testing ustekinumab in clinical trials of children recently diagnosed with type 1.

Other immune therapies being developed

There are lots of other immune therapies being developed and tested by researchers all over the world. By trying lots of different drugs instead of putting all our hopes in one, we are maximising our chances of finding the most effective immune therapy for type 1.

Some of the immune therapy drugs currently being tested in clinical trials of people with type 1 include:

Click the links above to find out more about the clinical trial of each drug.

Immune therapies in clinical trials

We are funding the UK T1D Research Consortium, which is a clinical trials platform testing immune therapies. Find out more about clinical trials and how to take part.

We are also funding Professor Colin Dayan, who helped set up the UK T1D Research Consortium, to establish another clinical trials testing platform: T1D Plus. Colin will use this new platform to test multiple drugs at a time to streamline the clinical trials process. This will speed up the time it takes for immune therapies to reach the people with type 1 who need them.

Find out more about T1D Plus and how it will help fast-track drugs through the research pipeline.

Research into shared causes of autoimmune conditions

Connect Immune Research logo

We’re looking beyond type 1 diabetes to better understand the immune system. There are more than 80 autoimmune conditions known to science – including type 1, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis – and we know there are similarities in the genetic risk factors for many of these conditions.

We set up a partnership called Connect Immune Research with Versus Arthritis, the MS Society and the British Society for Immunology to bring together scientists with expertise across different autoimmune conditions, to discover the common threads in their work.

Find out more about the Connect Immune Research partnership.

We will create a world without type 1

We have already invested more than £120 million in immune research across the world. From the early research that underpinned the development of teplizumab, to cutting-edge research to genetically edited immune cells, we are leading the race to a cure.

With JDRF researchers at the forefront of ground-breaking immunology discoveries, we’re confident that we will create a world without type 1 diabetes.

More helpful information

Read more
Beta cells shown under a microscope

Beta cells

Learn about the cells in the pancreas which make, store and release insulin, and the research that JDRF is funding in this area.

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A scientist in the lab working on novel insulins as part of treatment research for type 1 diabetes

Treatment research

Discover our research to improve and develop treatments for type 1.

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Type 1 diabetes prevention research. Islets under a microscope.

Prevention research

Learn about how our research to prevent type 1 diabetes has great potential to lift the burden of this condition from future generations.