No one knows why cancer therapies cause diabetes
Checkpoint inhibitors for cancer have brought dramatic improvements to a fraction of cancer patients. But for a small percentage of people who get those immunotherapies, the benefits come with a mysterious and irreversible side effect.
About 1% of people who take drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo develop Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong metabolic disorder that requires regular doses of insulin. And, as Elie Dolgin writes for STAT, scientists are still scratching their heads as to why.
Now, with $10 million in research funding, groups including the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy are banding together to investigate the phenomenon and, ideally, find a way to extract all the benefits of checkpoint inhibitors without the risk of triggering diabetes.
“I’m pretty open-minded about what mechanistically can be happening,” Parker Institute president and CEO Jeff Bluestone said. “And I’m really optimistic that we’re going to learn a lot quickly.”