Potential Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine

Scientists have been working with a vaccine for type 1 diabetes, and will start human trials in 2018. If successful, the diabetes vaccine will have the potential to reduce the number of new type 1 cases every year by providing immunity against the virus that triggers the body to attack itself.

Cause of Type 1 Diabetes

The University of Tampere in Finland has spent over 20 years researching what causes the body to attack its own pancreatic cells. This reaction is the cause of Type 1 diabetes. They have found evidence linking this reaction to a virus called coxasckievirus B1. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is a life-long autoimmune disease. It is diagnosed during childhood. This type of diabetes prevents the body from producing insulin by attacking beta cells within the pancreas. Our bodies need insulin to turn sugar into energy and without it, we cannot survive. At this time, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes.

The coxasckievirus is a type of enterovirus. This is a type of virus that enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract. One well known enterovirus would be polio. Infections caused by enteroviruses include the common cold, meningitis, and ear infections. Enteroviruses are common in newborn babies. Around one fourth of the known enterovirus infections in 2007 were caused by the CVB1 (coxsackievirus B1). Less than 5 percent of these cases go on to develop type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a complex condition, and we are still unsure of the exact cause. While enteroviruses are believed to play a part in the development of type 1 diabetes, it is not believed to be the sole cause.

Testing the Vaccine

We are still a long way from perfecting a diabetes vaccine. However, if successful, the vaccine could protect against other infections caused by enteroviruses, such as colds. Scientists have tested the vaccine safely on mice. Now, the next step is humans. There will be 3 stages for testing. First, the test group will be a small group of adults. This initial step is to determine safety. The second trial will test on children, so as to evaluate the safety and effect of the diabetes vaccine on enteroviruses. The final stage will be to see if the vaccine will be successful at preventing type 1 diabetes. The type 1 diabetes vaccine should not be confused with a cure for existing cases. There have been claims in the past about a vaccine that could reverse the affects of type 1 diabetes, which have been found false.

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