A phase 1b open-label dose-finding study of ustekinumab in young adults with type 1 diabetes

Ashish K Marwaha, Samuel Chow, Anne M Pesenacker, Laura Cook, Annika Sun, S Alice Long, Jennie H M Yang, Kirsten A Ward-Hartstonge, Evangelia Williams, Clara Domingo-Vila, Khalif Halani, Kristina M Harris, Timothy I M Tree, Megan K Levings, Thomas Elliott, Rusung Tan, Jan P Dutz

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We assessed the safety of ustekinumab (a monoclonal antibody used in psoriasis to target the IL-12 and IL-23 pathways) in a small cohort of recent-onset (<100 days of diagnosis) adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by conducting a pilot open-label dose-finding and mechanistic study (NCT02117765) at the University of British Columbia.

We sequentially enrolled 20 participants into four subcutaneous dosing cohorts: (i) 45 mg loading weeks 0/4/16, (ii) 45 mg maintenance weeks 0/4/16/28/40, (iii) 90 mg loading weeks 0/4/16, and (iv) 90 mg maintenance weeks 0/4/16/28/40. The primary endpoint was safety as assessed by an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) but we also measured mixed meal tolerance test C-peptide, insulin use/kg, and HbA1c. Immunophenotyping was performed to assess immune cell subsets and islet antigen-specific T cell responses.

Although several adverse events were reported, only two (bacterial vaginosis and hallucinations) were thought to be possibly related to drug administration by the study investigators. At 1 year, the 90 mg maintenance dosing cohort had the smallest mean decline in C-peptide area under the curve (AUC) (0.1 pmol/ml). Immunophenotyping showed that ustekinumab reduced the percentage of circulating Th17, Th1, and Th17.1 cells and proinsulin-specific T cells that secreted IFN-γ and IL-17A.

Ustekinumab was deemed safe to progress to efficacy studies by the DSMB at doses used to treat psoriasis in adults with T1D. A 90 mg maintenance dosing schedule reduced proinsulin-specific IFN-γ and IL-17A-producing T cells. Further studies are warranted to determine if ustekinumab can prevent C-peptide AUC decline and induce a clinical response.
Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunotherapy advances
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Nov 2021


  • immunomodulatory
  • type 1 diabetes
  • ustekinumab
  • clinical trial


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