Scientists will start to test a new prototype vaccine for preventing type 1 diabetes in 2018. The vaccine is the result of a long 25 years of hard work done by scientists. Though the vaccine will not completely cure nor will get rid of the type 1 diabetes, it will certainly improve the immune system to fight the virus. The type 1 diabetes is suffered by 5% of the population, while the type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among all.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system, which fights infection and illness, attacks its own cells in the pancreas. This attack reduces the insulin levels in the body. Therefore, the treatment is given in the form of injection or pumps to restore insulin levels in the body to avoid risk to life.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
A research team from the University of Tampere, Finland have been able to link the virus called “Coxsackievirus B1”, which triggers an autoimmune reaction whereby destroying the cells in the pancreas. This will reduce the ability of the pancreas to generate insulin to absorb glucose from the blood.
[Image Source: Jutta Laiho and Maarit Oikarinen]
How it all starts
Though the genesis of the infection is complex, one example suggested by the virologist, Heikki Hyöty from the University of Tampere seems apt. He said that the infection is caused by the enterovirus, similar to the one found in Polio.
In a study in 2014, the researchers said that "One can estimate from the generated data that less than 5 percent of CVB1-infected children go on to develop type 1 diabetes". Enteroviruses are more prevalent among newborns and children, having 44 known enteroviruses infections found by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US in 2007.
Each year, many children are inflicted with the type 1 diabetes and the numbers are growing steadily. Researchers are optimistic that the new vaccine will put a halt to the growing cases of type 1 diabetes. However, to prove the vaccine it may take at least 8 years from now.
“The developing process has now taken a significant leap forward as the next phase is to study the vaccine in humans", said the research team, who is developing the vaccine. Though they have successfully completed trials on mice, the next trails are to commence on the humans to ascertain successful elimination of viruses and complications of the vaccine.
There could be some side effects of the vaccine, says Hyöty. "Additionally, the vaccine would protect from infections caused by enteroviruses such as the common cold, myocarditis, meningitis and ear infections".
Meanwhile, a parallel research work is being carried out by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to identify ways and means to contain the type 1 diabetes. JDRF is finding alternate ways to regenerate insulin producing cells or replicating the function of pancreas inside the body.
As of now, there is not a single proven vaccine or medicine that can cure type 1 diabetes. Though scientists are working in collaboration, a successful outcome may take some years to manifest.