A phase 2 randomized trial with autologous polyclonal expanded regulatory T cells in children with new-onset type 1 diabetes

Sci Transl Med. 2024 May 8;16(746):eadn2404. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.adn2404. Epub 2024 May 8.


CD4+CD25hiCD127lo/-FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a key role in preventing autoimmunity. In autoimmune type 1 diabetes (T1D), adoptive transfer of autologous polyclonal Tregs has been shown to be safe in adults in phase 1 clinical trials. We explored factors contributing to efficacy of autologous polyclonal expanded Tregs (expTregs) in a randomized phase 2 multi-center, double-blind, clinical trial (Sanford/Lisata Therapeutics T-Rex phase 2 trial, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02691247). One hundred ten treated children and adolescents with new-onset T1D were randomized 1:1:1 to high-dose (20 × 106 cells/kilogram) or low-dose (1 × 106 cells/kilogram) treatments or to matching placebo. Cytometry as well as bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing were performed on selected expTregs and peripheral blood samples from participants. The single doses of expTregs were safe but did not prevent decline in residual β cell function over 1 year compared to placebo (P = 0.94 low dose, P = 0.21 high dose), regardless of age or baseline C-peptide. ExpTregs were highly activated and suppressive in vitro. A transient increase of activated memory Tregs was detectable 1 week after infusion in the high-dose cohort, suggesting effective transfer of expTregs. However, the in vitro fold expansion of expTregs varied across participants, even when accounting for age, and lower fold expansion and its associated gene signature were linked with better C-peptide preservation regardless of Treg dose. These results suggest that a single dose of polyclonal expTregs does not alter progression in T1D; instead, Treg quality may be an important factor.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory* / immunology
  • Transplantation, Autologous

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02691247