British trial tests out vaccination against type 1 diabetes

Wed, 06 Feb 2013
Researchers from King's College London and Cardiff University have developed a vaccine that may help prevent the body's immune system from killing off the important insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

The trial will give 24 people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes a new vaccination which will be administered every two weeks for a six month period in an attempt to help the immune system fight off the development of the condition.

In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system incorrectly turns on its own beta cells, the cells which produce insulin in our pancreas. A particular type of immune cell called 'killer T cells' can incorrectly get taught by the body to carry out the destruction of its own cells. In someone without type 1 diabetes, there are another set of T cells called 'regulatory T cells' which prevent these rogue, mistaught T cells from carrying out the killing.

The vaccine, developed by the researchers, intends to boost the effectiveness of the regulatory T cells to help bring the immune system back under control.

Whilst a number of different vaccinations against the development of type 1 diabetes have been produced by other universities, successes have so far been relatively small.

A previous trial of the vaccination being used in the study produced encouraging results but the vaccination may require further development to produce truly successful results. The research is exciting news but Diabetes.co.uk notes that success is not guaranteed and people with type 1 diabetes should not expect the vaccine to be available within the next few years.
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