A Vaccine For Type 1 Diabetes Begins Human Trials in 2018
A prototype vaccine, decades in the making, that could prevent type 1 diabetes in children is ready to start clinical trials in 2018.
It's not a cure, and it won't eliminate the disease altogether, but the vaccine is expected to provide immunity against a virus that has been found to trigger the body's defences into attacking itself, potentially reducing the number of new diabetes cases each year.
Over two decades of research led by the University of Tampere in Finland has already provided solid evidence linking a type of virus called coxsackievirus B1 with an autoimmune reaction that causes the body to destroy cells in its own pancreas.
The type 1 form of diabetes – not to be confused with the more prevalent type 2 variety that tends to affect individuals later in life – is a decreased ability to produce the insulin used by the body's cells to absorb glucose out of the blood.
This loss of insulin is the result of pancreatic tissue called beta cells being destroyed by the body's own immune system, often within the first few years of life.
It's something of a mystery as to why the body identifies beta cells as foreign, though there could be a genetic link producing variations of human leukocyte markers, which act as the cell's 'ID tags'.
No doubt it's complex, and there are numerous ways this process can be triggered. One example established by virologist Heikki Hyöty from the University of Tampere is an infection by a type of enterovirus.
Enteroviruses are nasty pieces of work; you might be most familiar with polio, but they can also cause hand, foot and mouth disease, Continue reading