Gleevec, the daily pill that turned a killer type of leukemia into a manageable disease, may also help slow the worsening of diabetes, researchers reported Monday. In a follow up to a 2008 study in which diabetic mice were cured by the drug, a team reports “modest” effects in adults with type-1 diabetes. This is the type of diabetes often called juvenile diabetes and it’s caused when the immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells called beta cells. A mans finger is pricked to test cholesterol and blood sugar on August 13, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. Rick Gershon / Getty Images Tests done in 67 adults with type-1 diabetes showed the drug appeared to boost their body's own production of insulin, Dr. Stephen Gitelman of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine told a meeting of the American Diabetes Association. “On average the people that got the medicine used less insulin,” Gitelman told NBC News. He stressed that it is a small trial meant to show the drug can safely do in people what it did in mice. “We just wanted to get a sense if this showed some benefit in adults so we could get to the target population in kids,” Gitelman said. “The conservative estimate is that beta cell function was maybe 19 percent better at one year. So it’s not a slam-dunk home run.” The team will have to get Food and Drug Administration permission to test the drug in children. About 5 percent of the 29 million Americans with diabetes have Type-1 diabetes. It’s an autoimmune disease, caused when the body mistakenly destroys pancreatic cells that produce hormones like insulin and glucagon that control blood sugar. High glucose levels damage tiny blood vessels, which in turn can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. People can lose toes, feet or legs to amputation. When levels fall too low, patients can pass out and sometimes die. There's no cure and the only treatment is to keep blood sugar under tight control with diet and insulin. Most people with type-1 diabetes must constantly check their blood sugar throughout the day, administering insulin according to what they are eating and how much they are exercising. If those dying