A vaccine for type 1 diabetes could be available within the next 20 years, according to researchers at Diabetes UK.
Dr Alasdair Ranki, the charity’s director of research, said a powerful vaccine that could prevent people at high risk of type 1 diabetes from developing the condition was now a realistic prospect.
“It has the potential to be one of the really big medical breakthroughs in the first half of the 21st Century,” Dr Rankin said.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body’s immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is not clear what triggers this autoimmune attack, but scientists do know that it isn’t linked to lifestyle, as with type 2 diabetes.
“We tend to think of Type 1 diabetes as unavoidable but there is a huge sense of excitement in the research community that the work being done today is building towards a future where Type 1 diabetes can be stopped in its tracks,” Dr Rankin commented.
“This is not, of course, going to happen overnight. It is likely that the first vaccines we see will allow people to live longer before they develop Type 1 diabetes, rather than preventing it entirely.”
“But we know that if people who do develop Type 1 diabetes are treated early with a vaccine then it could provide some benefits that make their condition easier to manage and improve their health in the long term.”
“We would also expect treatments to get gradually better as we understand more about how the immune system works in people with Type 1 diabetes .”
Around 300,000 people in the UK have type 1 diabetes mellitus. Finding a cure for the condition would represent the single biggest breakthrough in diabetes research in almost a century, since insulin was first successfully used to treat the disease.

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