Type 1 diabetes vaccine is just 10 years away, scientists say

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Scientists are optimistic about possibility of a vaccine for type 1 diabetes so much so that they have claimed that the vaccine could be available “within a generation”.

The announcement comes on the heels of a new £4.4 million investment – funded by Diabetes UK with support from Tesco (over £3.3 million) and co-funding from JDRF (over £1 million). Researchers say that the new investment will allow them to produce the first working vaccines within the next 10 years.

As of today, type 1 diabetes affects lives of more than 300,000 people in the UK and managing the disorder is kind of a daily struggle for them. The diabetes leads to devastating health complications in many people and many even lose their lives before time.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Diabetes UK’s Director of Research, says that the research “is hugely exciting because it has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living with Type 1 diabetes, as well as leading us towards a longed-for cure.”

“These studies will take us a long way towards changing that – bringing us closer than ever to preventing and ultimately curing the condition”, Rankin added.

Rankin added that the first vaccine will probably not be preventing the diabetes entirely, but would rather help people delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes. Rankin is optimistic nonetheless as this would help hundreds of thousands of people to reduce the risk of serious complications including stroke, blindness and heart attacks.

“In the longer term, a fully effective vaccine would represent a huge medical breakthrough and could transform the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes”, he added.

The funding will be utilised by four different studies with the single goal of developing vaccine for type 1 diabetes. The first study will see professor Mark Peakman at King’s College London lead the UK’s first ever trial of a prototype vaccine in children and teenagers living with or at high risk of Type 1 diabetes.

Second study will see professor Colin Dayan at Cardiff University develop a UK-wide network to enable more Type 1 ‘immuno-therapy’ trials to take place in UK hospitals – and to train the young doctors and researchers who will lead them.

The third study will see professor Desmond Johnston of Imperial College London continue his work to identify people newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes so that more people with the condition can be offered the important opportunity to take part in clinical trials.

Finally, part of the money will also fund work by Dr Tim Tree, also at King’s College London, who will set up a UK-wide network of specialist laboratories to study the impact of immuno-therapy trials, investigating exactly how different treatments work to control the immune attack that causes Type 1 diabetes and working out if it is possible to predict who will benefit most from each treatment.