The vaccine trial at Cardiff University, in the UK, hopes to stop or slow down the immune system attacking the pancreas, the cause in Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually develops in childhood and has been shown to be caused by immune cells attacking and killing insulin producing cells which help regulate blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to occur because of genetics and not due to lifestyle or obesity and is life threatening unless patients begin a regimen of insulin therapy for their entire life.
Dr. Colin Dayan, professor of clinical diabetes and metabolism at Cardiff University, who in charge of the clinical trial said: "We believe that this immune-based therapy can slow or stop the body from damaging its own insulin-making cells in the pancreas.
Preliminary research has shown that the vaccine is safe, the next step is meant to determine if the treatment is effective. The scientists are recruiting adult patients who have recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and have just started taking insulin to take part in the trial.
The four hospital centers that are taking part in the trial are the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Guy's and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust in London, Bristol Royal Infirmary and Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle.
"In my laboratory we spent many years gaining a better understanding of what goes wrong with the balance of the immune system in patients developing Type 1 diabetes," says Dr. Mark Peakman, professor of clinical immunology at King's College London who pioneered the vaccine approach. "We eventually hit upon the idea that we could try to revert the damaging response by inducing a protective one; so it's a vaccine with a difference."
Dr. Dayan concluded: "Information from the trial combined with further studies building on this could improve quality of life and long-term health and benefit for children and adults with type 1 diabetes and future generations."
Can this vaccine trial lead to a treatment and possible remission of Type 1 Diabetes? Only time will tell.