04/22/2015 11:05 EDT | Updated 07/16/2015 07:59 EDT

UBC Type 1 diabetes drug trial seeks to end injections

Researchers at UBC are looking for young people recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes for a pilot study to see if an existing drug can curb the need for insulin injections.

UBC Associate Professor Dr. Tom Elliott is working with B.C. Diabetes on the study.

They want to see if a drug typically used for psoriasis conditions can reduce or even eliminate insulin dependence.

"It's a chance to get a cure for this, which is unheard of so far," said Elliott.

"My research team has identified a molecule that's been used very successfully for treating a form of arthritis, that looks like a very good candidate to stop the destruction of insulin-secreting cells that is the cause of Type 1 diabetes."

The drug ustekinumab, which is sold commercially as Stelara, is not approved for treating Type 1 diabetes, but it's going to be made available free of charge to 20 people in the pilot study in Vancouver.

One participate is Sierra Dean, 19, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two months ago. She didn't know much about the disease until she found out she has it, she said.

"Having to learn to give myself injections as well as carb count, and the exercise needed. It's been a huge learning curve," said Dean.

The researchers are still looking for participants between the ages of 18 and 35 who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes within the last 100 days. More eligibility information can be found on the B.C. Diabetes website.