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Tzield: Shield Against Type 1 Diabetes

Feb 22, 2023
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Tzield is an antibody injection that delays the onset of type 1 diabetes.  This article covers the basics of what you may want to know.

Tzield: Shield Against Type 1 Diabetes


Tzield is an antibody injection that delays the onset of type 1 diabetes.  This article covers the basics of what you may want to know.


How do you take Tzield?


It’s given via IV every day for 14 days.  It takes 30 min everyday to fully give it.


How expensive is Tzield?  Is it covered by Insurance?


This is always a hard one.  It really depends on your insurance.  A local rep told me the cash price could be as high as $180,000 for the full two week dose.


If you can prevent or slow down and delay type 1 diabetes for several years and avoid diabetes ketoacidosis which includes a long hospital stay including the ICU sometimes, the cost maybe worth it if you are looking at just the money portion of it.


However, if you can delay type 1 diabetes in your child for several years, that is priceless.

Do I qualify for Tzield? Does my child qualify for Tzield?


If you have type 1 diabetes, then your kids have a higher chance of getting type 1 diabetes.  If your sibling has type 1, the chance is also high for you to get type 1 diabetes.  Currently there is no medication to prevent or delay getting type 1 diabetes.  Tzield is the first medication to delay type 1 diabetes.  This is for patients who have family members that already have type 1 diabetes and are interested in catching it early on enough to delay it.


How many years does Tzield delay type 1 diabetes?


In about half of the patients that received Tzield, type 1 diabetes was delayed by an average of 2 years.


What are the side effects of Tzield?


The most common side effect is called leukopenia.  Leukopenia is when you have a decreased amount of white blood cells.  When you have decreased white blood cells, this leads to infections because your body can’t fight the infections because of low white blood cells.  Your white blood cells should be checked before and after Tzield is given.


You may need to have certain vaccinations (for other diseases) before you are given Tzield.  This is because of the lower white blood cells. If we can prevent infections, the better especially when you have lower white blood cells.


Other common side effects include rash, headache.


Other serious side effects are Cytokine release syndrome.

Where can I go to get Tzield?


You can get Tzield ordered at your endocrinology office.  They will most likely have to send you to an infusion center to get this done because the dose is over 14 days everyday, including the weekends.  It’s given through an IV over 30 min.


What are the antibodies that are checked?

There are 5 antibodies that we can check to see if you may haveaaa

Where can I go get the labs done for these antibodies?


  1.  Labcorp- this is the only lab that can check all 5 of the antibodies.  GADA, IAA, IA-2A, ZnT8A, and ICA
  2. Quest- They can check for GADA, IA-2A, IAA, ZnT8A
  3. JDRF- This is $50 or less and can work with you on the price.  They can check for GADA, IA-2A, IAA
  4. TrialNet- This is free and they can check for GADA, IAA and others depending on other factors

What does it mean if I have positive antibodies?

You are considered stage 1 if you have two antibodies that are positive.  It could be any combination of the five antibodies, as long as you have 2 out of the 5


How do you classify stage one and stage two?


Stage one is when you have two antibodies present. 

Stage two is where you have the 2 antibodies present along with abnormal glucose metabolism. This means that your sugars are abnormal.  When your sugars are between normal and full onset diabetes.  This can be done several ways.  One is checking sugars by finger stick, getting an A1c done, and doing a glucose tolerance test.


Stage 3 is full onset type 1 diabetes

How often can you check the antibodies again if you are negative?


There are no guidelines on this but you can check it once a year for now if you want or less often.

How does Tzield work?


It’s a clever name.  Tzield.  It attacks the T cells which are cells in your immune system that attack the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. It shields the insulin producing cells from the bad T-cells.