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BioDrugs. 2003;17(1):39-64.

Prevention strategies for type 1 diabetes mellitus: current status and future directions.

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Department of Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Type 1 diabetes mellitus affects about 1 in 300 people in North America and Europe. Epidemiological studies indicate that the incidence and thus prevalence of type 1 diabetes is rising worldwide. Intervention in autoimmune type 1a diabetes could occur at the time of diagnosis or, preferably, prior to clinical presentation during the 'prediabetic' period (e.g. prevention). Prediabetes is best recognised by the detection of islet autoantibodies in the serum. Promising intervention strategies include monoclonal antibody therapies (e.g. anti-CD3, anti-CD25, anti-CD52 or anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies), immunosuppression (e.g. calcineurin inhibitors, B7 blockade, glucocorticoids, sirolimus (rapamycin), azathioprine or mycophenolate mofetil), immunomodulatory therapies (e.g. plasmapheresis, intravenous immunoglobulin, cytokine administration, adoptive cellular gene therapy) and tolerisation interventions (e.g. autoantigen administration or avoidance, altered peptide ligand or peptide-based therapies). To date, islet and pancreas transplantation have essentially been reserved for patients with long-standing diabetes who have complications and are also in need of a concurrent kidney transplant. None of the therapies attempted to date has produced long-term remissions in new-onset type 1 diabetes patients and no therapies have been shown to prevent the disease. Nevertheless, with advances in our understanding of basic immunology and the cellular and molecular mechanisms of tolerance induction and maintenance, successful intervention therapies will be developed. The balance between safety and efficacy is critical. Higher rates of adverse events might be more tolerable in new-onset type 1 diabetes patients if the therapy is extremely effective at inducing a permanent remission. However, therapies must not harm the beta-cells themselves or any organ system that is a potential target of diabetes complications, such as the nervous system, retina, cardiovascular system or kidney. In the treatment of prediabetes, successful therapies should provide a level of safety similar to that of currently used vaccines and a high level of efficacy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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