Type 1

Type 1 diabetes preventative vaccine ready for human trials

by Barbara Hewitt on July 25, 2017

A preventive vaccine for type 1 diabetes is to be tested on humans for the first time next year in Finland, it has been announced.

Scientists from the University of Tampere have confirmed that their research with the vaccine in mice has shown the vaccine to be effective and safe and they are now ready to move onto human trials

(darrenmbaker/Bigstock.com)

If successful the vaccine could be ready for general use in late 2018, according to the team led by Heikki Hyoty, professor of virology at the university who has been working on developing a vaccine that could prevent the condition for many years. But he stressed that the vaccine is not a cure.

The research group has been able to identify the enteroviruses belonging to the group B coxsackieviruses that are related to diabetes. A prototype vaccine has been developed to prevent these viruses.

‘Already it is known that the vaccine is effective and safe on mice. The developing process has now taken a significant leap forward as the next phase is to study the vaccine in humans,’ said Hyoty.

In the first clinical phase, the vaccine will be studied in a small group of adults to ensure the safety of the vaccine. In the second phase, the vaccine will be studied in children and the aim is to investigate both the safety of the vaccine and its effectiveness against enteroviruses.

In the third phase, the aim is to investigate whether the vaccine could be used to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. However, it can take about eight years in order to certainly know whether the vaccine prevents type 1 diabetes.

‘The aim is to develop a vaccine that could prevent a significant number of type 1 diabetes cases. Additionally, the vaccine would protect from infections caused by enteroviruses such as the common cold, myocarditis, meningitis and ear infections. However, in light of current research, the vaccine could not be used to cure existing diabetes,’ explained Hyöty.

The connection between viral infections and type 1 diabetes has been researched for over 25 years at the faculty of medicine and life sciences at the University of Tampere and has found that one virus group, enteroviruses, play a part in developing the condition as they can infect the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and damage them permanently.

The research phase beginning now is the result of a long period of negotiations between several stakeholders interested in the matter. The research project will be funded by the US based company Provention Bio along with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is the largest organisation funding research on type 1 diabetes in the world, and the Finnish company Vactech Oy, which has developed the required vaccine technology.

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