Recently, a new study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with Finnish scientists has developed a new vaccine that can potentially help in the prevention of diabetes type 1.
Previously, research has discovered that the majority of the metabolic disorders including type 1 diabetes are multifactorial, which means that a number of factors ranging from genetic to environmental contribute to its development.
One of the newly discovered causes is infections caused by certain viruses. These viruses are a sub-group of enteroviruses, known as the Coxsackie B (CVB) family. There are six identified strains of the CVB viruses, all of which are associated with everyday conditions including the common cold.
However, some of the strains can also cause dangerous and difficult to treat infections such as meningitis and myocarditis. According to the research present on CVB viruses, they can possibly play a role in type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes occurs when the immune system starts attacking the body’s own cells present in the pancreas which are required for the production of insulin – a hormone that is fundamental for breakdown of nutrients in the body.
Some epidemiological studies on children with a genetic risk of type 1 diabetes have suggested that some infections and strains of CVB family can initiate this reaction by the immune system in the body.
Additionally, autopsy observations have also highlighted the potential role of these viruses in the development of the disease.
The new study, whose findings appear in the journal Science Advances, focuses on a vaccine that targets all six strains of CVB family, which can, in turn, cut down the risk of having diabetes type 1.
The vaccine was also tested in animals including lab mice models in which it was observed to prevent the development of diabetes in the mice who had been infected with any of the strains of CVB.
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Secondly, the vaccine was also tested in a model of rhesus monkeys, whose genetics are known to be similar to humans. The researchers noted that the vaccine produced antibodies to safeguard against the CVB viruses in the monkeys as well.
Professor Heikki Hyöty, who was in the team for developing the trial for the vaccine, commented on these findings, saying “The results give important scientific support to an ongoing clinical development program aiming at testing a similar commercial vaccine in humans,”
In accordance with the researchers, there is scientific evidence to show that the vaccine is safe for usage in humans. So, in a clinical trial in the future, they hope to test the vaccine on children who have a genetic risk of developing diabetes type 1.
If the number of children who develop diabetes type 1 is lower than expected or if none of the participating children develop the disease at all, it will confirm whether the vaccine works or not.
The corresponding author of the study and a professor of type 1 diabetes at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet, Malin Flodström-Tullberg, says that the team has high expectations from the vaccine.
Administering the vaccine to children can help in finding out whether it helps cut down the risk of diabetes type 1 and also protect from other common infections, the team explains. Not only will the vaccine help in keeping common colds away but also dangerous infections such as myocarditis.
While the timeline for the new trial has not been yet set, the researchers are hoping it will take place in the coming few years. Till then, it will also give them plenty of time to investigate further on CVB viruses and their contribution to type 1 diabetes.