Diabetes type 1 is a disorder seen in many patients at a very young age which is mostly related to genetic factors. It is an autoimmune disorder which might be due to the contribution of some viral infections. A new study by the research team of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden investigates a new vaccine that could protect against these viruses hence plays a role in the prevention of diabetes type 1.
This study is published in the scientific journal Science Advances and is available online to study.
The cause of type 1 diabetes which is also called Juvenile diabetes is still unknown. It vastly affects a huge population of Swedes with an estimate of around 500,000 people. Although this is a genetic disease environmental factors also have a role to play.
Another important contributing factor is the infections related to enteroviruses. Coxsackie B (CVB) family which is a subgroup of this genus which further includes six strains of viruses and cause the common cold. This family of viruses has been directly linked to Diabetes type 1 but CVBs cause several other severe infections which cause diseases including meningitis and even myocarditis.
The pancreas consists of beta cells that are involved in insulin production. These cells when attacked by the autoimmune response lead to diabetes. According to a hypothesis, the infection caused by CVBs induces this autoimmune attack.
CVBs are thought to be linked to this disease through several studies. Children who are genetically susceptible to get type 1 diabetes were periodically tested over a span of several years which specified the possibility of CVBs playing a contributory role in the disease.
Another observation of autopsies indicates the involvement of CVBs in Diabetes type 1. Although these hypotheses are vastly accepted among researchers they are not yet proven.
A vaccine has been successfully developed against all strains of the CVB family by a team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet along with their colleagues from Tampere University and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. This vaccine has been through the lab trials on animal models and showed positive results in preventing viral infection related to diabetes type 1 in lab mice.
Rhesus monkey is closely related to humans genetically and has also produced antibodies against the virus after administration of the vaccine which shows that the vaccine is effective against CVBs.
Professor Heikki Hyöty from Tampere University said that the successful results from the trials have paved the way for testing the vaccine on humans on a commercial scale. He believes that this trial has positively supported the clinical development program for the vaccine. This is a collaborative program between the American pharmaceutical company and Finnish biotech company.
According to the clinical trials, the vaccine is safe to use, so the next step would be to vaccinate the genetically susceptible children towards diabetes type 1. According to the researchers if the vaccine is proven to be effective in children then CVBs will be confirmed as the potential environmental factor in inducing the autoimmune response.
The development of this vaccine is huge progress towards preventing diabetes type 1 in children. Moreover, it will also help to prevent CVBs related infections which cause serious diseases in children as well as adults while it will also protect against the common cold.