Developing a Diabetes Vaccine

La Jolla Researchers are Developing a Childhood Vaccine to Cure the Disease

By Alicia Dean
|  Monday, Nov 9, 2009  |  Updated 3:07 PM PDT
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Researchers Work on Diabetes Vaccine

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Researchers Work on Diabetes Vaccine

Scientists hope to start strictly monitored trials next year.
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La Jolla researchers are hoping to develop a vaccine that, similar to measles or chicken pox, would immunize children from Type-1 Diabetes.

Staff working at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology Research are so close to the concept that clinical trials are expected to begin mid to late next year.

Type-1 Diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes, causes the immune system to destroy the body’s insulin producing cells.

“You need insulin to stay alive to process the sugars from your food. if you have no insulin essentially you die,” said Mattias Von Herrath, M.D. Director of the new Diabetes Center.

"For the parents it’s crazy, because they give [their children] the insulin, then they worry the whole night whether the child’s blood sugar levels will get too low,” said Von Herrath.

Von Herrath and his team have developed what is essentially a "one-two punch" designed to level the up and down insulin cycle in patients.

Not only could it replace the need for traditional treatment like checks and insulin shots, but the team is hopeful it could reverse the impact the condition has on a patient's body.

“Combined therapy dampens the immune system but short, just about the right amount, then it takes a vaccine that re-trains your immune system not to attack your insulin cells,” explained Von Herrath.

Von Herrath is confident the vaccine can be used to treat patients already diagnosed with the disease. In mice, this combined therapy was able to completely halt the advance of recent on-set diabetes.

The ultimate goal is to create a childhood vaccine to be given to children who have a family history of Type-1 Diabetes.

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