Insulin Vaccine May Prevent Type 1 Diabetes in Children
A vaccination for type 1 diabetes may soon be a reality for children, according to a new study from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health.
The Pre-POINT study is a continuation of a previous study that found powdered insulin could trigger a positive immune response in children who have a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes. Now, researchers will test whether this effect can be achieved with oral insulin.
"The [study] will treat children between the ages of six months and two years who carry a genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes or have a family history of the disease, but who have not yet developed an autoimmune response," a press release on the study stated.
Children in the study will take the insulin every day with their food for 12 months.
Oral insulin acts like a vaccine
Oral insulin has no effect on blood sugar levels because it is absorbed through the digestive tract, researchers explained. Therefore, it acts like a vaccine that triggers the immune system.
"The autoimmune response that causes type 1 diabetes in childhood is often initially directed at the insulin," said Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Director of the Institute of Diabetes Research.
By building up immune tolerance to the insulin, the hope is that the children's bodies can block the autoimmune process that causes type 1 diabetes by stimulating the growth of protective immune cells.
"Medical examinations will be conducted at three-month intervals in order to monitor the general health of the participants," the report stated.
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