I attended a highly informative diabetes research briefing today led by Dr. Dick Insel, JDRF's Chief Science Officer. He reported that, sadly, the incidence of type-1 diabetes has increased increased 5.5%, especially in young children ages 1-5. It helps to justify the foundation's funding of research of "at-risk" and "recent onset diabetes" stages of the disease.
There has already been some promising work with anti-cd3 therapies that can help preserve beta cell function in the newly diagnosed. 2-3 week therapies seem to have a long-term positive effect - up to 4 years after therapy - to reduce the amount of insulin a patient may require to regulate her blood sigar. My family has had some first hand experience with this. My wife Marinda, took part in the Phase II clinical trials for Tolerx's drug TRX4 and has clearly benefited from it. The problem is that some of these treatments may be unsafe for younger patients. It's still too early to tell.
An interesting chart that Dr. Insel shared was one of the best I've ever seen to illustrate the progression of the disease: