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Oral vaccination for type 1 diabetes may be possible

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the autoimmune response against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas leads to an outbreak of the illness.   An international group of scientists including doctors from the University Pediatric Clinic in Vienna investigated a type of prophylactic vaccine against diabetes. The results were positive, as reported in the American medical journal “JAMA”.

"In this study with children with a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes, the oral administration of 67.5 milligrams of insulin once per day compared to a placebo led to an immune response without the corresponding development of low blood sugar. The results show that a Phase III study (note: effectiveness) would be recommended in order to determine whether insulin can prevent the autoimmune response against the islet cells and thus diabetes in such children”, said  Ezio Bonifacio of the Center for Regenerative Meidince at the Dresden University of Technology and his co-authors in summarizing the results of the study.   

The publication is a so-called pre-POINT study, involving the Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado (Denver, USA), Southmead Hospital (Bristol, UK), the University Pediatric Clinic at Vienna General Hospital (Medical University of Vienna), the research facility in Dresden and the Institute for Diabetes Research of the Munich University of Technology. The specialists Edith Schober and Birgit Rami from Vienna participated in the project.

The work could be pioneering, according to Anette-Gabriele Ziegler of the Institute for Diabetes Research in Munich. The attempt to develop a prophylactic vaccine to prevent autoimmune responses triggering “juvenile diabetes” is unique. “This is a revolutionary approach to prevent type 1 diabetes“, she said. A more extensive study to precisely clarify the effectiveness of this approach is planned.  In this case, the plan is to target families in which type 1 diabetes often occurs. 

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