California researchers have developed a two-drug regimen that could free type 1 diabetes sufferers from from dependence on insulin and dietary restrictions.

The team at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology successfully reversed the course of type 1 diabetes in mice. The team is led by Dr. Matthias von Herrath, an expert on the molecular basis of type 1 diabetes.

Victims of type 1 diabetes, which usually shows itself in children or young adults, are unable to produce insulin.

Herrath and his team tested a combination of two therapies — anti-CD3 antibody and proinsulin peptide — which are already in separate clinical trials in humans. They found that in mice the combination works more effectively than either alone.

Anti-CD3 antibody has been shown to reverse the effects of recent onset human type 1 diabetes for more than a year. The combination therapy reversed the effects in mice for their life span.

Because the complications of diabetes get worse as the disease progresses, the researchers hope the therapy can prevent the kind of organ damage diabetics now experience.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.