More people needed for type 1 diabetes vaccine study

Fri, 22 Feb 2013
Researchers in Australia are struggling to recruit patients for a world-first diabetes vaccine trial.

The study, run by Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, will test a nasal spray vaccine designed to prevent type 1 diabetes. The vaccine has been shown to be effective in bolstering immune response to the disease.

But before the groundbreaking research can begin, the scientists need to recruit another 37 people who are eligible to take part by the end of the year.

More than 9000 people in Australia, New Zealand and Germany have been screened since 2007 to determine their eligibility for the trial. But so far, only 84 people have been deemed as having a high enough risk of developing the disease to participate.

The nasal vaccine aims to reduce the immune system's attack on the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, thus allowing the body to produce its own insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar levels.

Professor Len Harrison said the new form of vaccination has "great potential", adding that in a concurrent study last year, it successfully induced protection against an immune response to insulin.

"It's a very exciting finding because if we can't show tolerance to insulin introduced from the outside, we couldn't really expect to see tolerance to insulin made inside the body," Prof Harrison said.

The research team are seeking participants aged 4 to 30 who are close relatives of someone with type 1 diabetes.
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