Our resource hub is home to a wealth of articles, stories and videos about managing and living with type 1 diabetes.
Place your order for our free information packs that support adults and children who have been recently diagnosed.
Our researchers are working on different ways to develop a cure for type 1 diabetes - from growing insulin-producing beta cells in labs to hacking the immune system.
Learn about the technologies that can deliver insulin automatically when needed. And discover the next generation of insulins that are currently being developed.
We have a wide range of fun and festive designs to choose from. Fund life changing research while spreading joy this Christmas!
This Christmas, your gift can bring us closer to a cure for type 1 diabetes – and every pound you give to our Christmas Appeal will be doubled.
The announcement is the biggest treatment breakthrough for type 1 diabetes since the discovery of insulin.
This event is designed for anyone living with type 1 diabetes who would like to learn more about managing their wellbeing across a variety of contexts.
We provide a wealth of information and free resources to help you support and empower your patients or students.
Take our free course for schools to learn more about supporting pupils with type 1 diabetes in educational settings.
Home > News & events > News > Antiviral drugs could maintain beta cell function in children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes
A graph from the research paper showing that the people with type 1 diabetes who took the antiviral drugs had higher levels of C-peptide (insulin production) than those on the placebo.
The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine , shows that the antiviral drugs pleconaril and ribavirin could help preserve the function of the insulin-producing beta cells of children newly diagnosed with type 1. Treatment with these drugs could help protect beta cells, which are normally destroyed by the immune system of people with type 1 .
Studies have found a link between infection with a type of virus called enterovirus and the onset of type 1. The JDRF-funded team behind this clinical trial also detected low levels of enterovirus infection in the pancreases of people newly diagnosed with type 1. This growing evidence of a link between enteroviruses and type 1 led the researchers to test whether antiviral drugs could be used to treat people with type 1.
Based in Norway, the research team gave 47 children aged 6-15 years an oral mixture of two antiviral drugs, pleconaril and ribavirin. Meanwhile, 49 children were given a placebo. To keep the test fair, neither the children taking part, nor the researchers knew who was taking the which mixture.
The children began the experiment within three weeks of being diagnosed with type 1 and took the mixture for six months. After 12 months, the researchers measured their C-peptide levels, which is a measure of insulin production.
The C-peptide levels of the group who were taking the antiviral drugs was significantly higher than the group taking the placebo. The amount of insulin the children taking the placebo could produce dropped by 24% in the 12 months since their diagnosis. By contrast, the insulin production of the children taking the antiviral drugs only fell by 11% in the same period. This suggests that the antiviral drugs were preserving some of the children’s residual insulin production.
Being able to produce some insulin helps make managing type 1 easier. It has also been shown to reduce long term complications of diabetes.
Also known as the honeymoon period, people with type 1 who are still making some insulin may need to take less insulin and experience more stable blood glucose levels. Preserving this ability is especially important for the young age group in this study, whose changing bodies can make managing type 1 even harder.
None of the children in this study experienced any severe side effects from the antiviral drugs. They also didn’t experience any severe hypos in the 12 months they were studied. The lack of serious side effects suggests that it is safe to give children newly diagnosed with type 1 the antiviral drugs pleconaril and ribavirin.
JDRF-funded researcher Professor Knut Dahl-Jørgensen from Oslo University Hospital led the clinical trial and presented the results at Europe’s largest diabetes conference.
Professor Dahl-Jørgensen said: “These results provide a rationale to find optimal antiviral drugs to be used alone, or as part of combination treatment regimens, to rescue insulin producing beta-cells at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Further studies should be done at an earlier stage in the disease process to evaluate whether antiviral treatment could delay the progression of beta-cell damage leading to clinical type 1 diabetes.”
The research, which was co-funded by JDRF, reveals that drugs that target the immune system offer very effective and rapid improvements in stabilising blood sugar levels, often within just three months.
The new JDRF-funded clinical trial called SOPHIST will test a drug to help people with type 1 diabetes and heart failure.
Results from a clinical trial called the PROTECT study show that teplizumab can preserve beta cell function in children and adolescents newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Immunotherapy, beta cell replacement, smart insulins – we’re driving research in the most promising areas to find cures and better treatments for type 1 diabetes.