A few days ago, the FDA announced that it would approve a vaccine for type 1 diabetes for phase II clinical trials. The new vaccine will be tested on 150 patients that are affected by an advanced stage of the disease.
The announcement was made Sunday at the American Diabetes Association’s 75th Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the U.S., about 1.25 million people are affected by type 1 diabetes.
The immune system of a type 1 diabetes patient constantly destroys the cells that produce insulin, so that the patient needs to supplement insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. The disease also produces T cells that disrupt the pancreatic activity.
The new vaccine promises to seek and destroy those nasty T cells.
Test subjects that have been injected with the new vaccine in the preliminary trials experienced a significant boost in a beneficial chemical called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). This factor helps the body fight against the T cells whose sole business is to intermingle with insulin production.
Researchers explained that the new Type 1 Diabetes vaccine is a revamped version of an older vaccine used to treat tuberculosis about a century ago. That vaccine is currently employed in treating bladder cancer.
In past trials, patients that had received the vaccine for tuberculosis twice over the course of one month saw that the T cells were gone from their body, while their pancreas resumed insulin secretion on its own.
Researchers are very positive about the results. They now plan to turn the statistically significant results from phase I (preliminary) into a “lasting therapeutic response” in phase II. They will be also focusing on developing a type of vaccine that not only alleviates symptoms but it can also cure advanced stages of the disease.
The new session of clinical trials will debut this summer and it will last five years. Participants’ ages will range from 18 to 60. They will receive the vaccine twice over the course of one month, and then have a single shot per year for the next four years.
However, there are doctors that are hesitant about the vaccine. One of them is Prof. Robert Sobel, an endocrinology expert from the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
“I think it’s a stretch to say this would have a huge impact on the millions plus type I diabetes patients in this country,”
He also noted that despite doctors’ best efforts to fix their patients’ beta cell populations, on the long run they watched helplessly the disease return.
Image Source: Huffington Post
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