A new vaccine is being develop to reverse Type 1 Diabetes. The diabetes vaccine works by teaching the immune system of patients not to attack their own bodies.
People with diabetes have their immune systems destroying insulin-producing cells. Insulin is needed by the human body to control the level of sugar in the blood stream.
The study published June 26 in Science Translational Medicine showed the results of the work of experts from the Stanford University Medical Center. Instead of working like the polio or flu vaccine, the Type 1 Diabetes vaccine does not attack the virus but instead switch off a harmful action of the patient's own immune system.
"We were able to destroy the rogue cells that are attacking the insulin-producing cells without destroying any other part of the immune system, and that's truly exciting. Once the immune attack is stopped, I believe there's great potential for recovery in the beta cells," explained Dr. Lawrence Steinman, one of the authors of the study and a professor at the School of Medicine at Stanford University, in an interview with WebMD.
During the study, the proponents followed 80 diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes who were randomly assigned to receive the vaccine or a placebo for three months. They were monitored for responses to the vaccine and any adverse reactions.
The researchers measured the level of C-peptide considered as a better indicator of insulin levels. C-peptide is a part of proinsulin that is the precursor to insulin. The subjects of the study showed increased levels of C-peptide for those who received the vaccine compared to those who received the placebo.
The patients in the study still needed their insulin shots, the primary management for Type 1 Diabetes patients, but the researchers consider the vaccine a big step toward that goal.
The researchers were able to create the vaccine by altering a DNA of the immune system, in a way training them, not to go after insulin-producing cells in the body.
Experts still recommend more studies to be connected about vaccines for Type 1 Diabetes since the human immune system reacts in very complex manner.
It looks like, from the early data we have in humans, we'll have to give this shot more frequently (than shots for things like Tetanus). But remember, people with Type 1 diabetes are taking shots of insulin all day long. The difference is going to be regarded favorably," Steinman added.