Is a T1 Vaccine Coming Soon?

Finnish researchers say they’ve found the virus that causes T1 diabetes.

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According to a report in the Finnish news site yle Uutiset, researchers believe they have isolated several strains of an enterovirus that they say is responsible for causing Type 1 diabetes. The researchers at Tampere University are confident that, with the proper funding, a vaccine can be developed to inoculate against the virus.

The researchers examined hundreds of strains of a virus they suspected could be responsible for penetrating the pancreas and destroying beta cells, eventually causing Type 1 diabetes. They eventually narrowed their search to 5 strains of the virus, with one eventually identified as the most likely culprit. Next they developed a vaccine to this virus which proved effective in shielding mice from Type 1 diabetes, according to the report.

The next step is to develop a similar vaccine for humans, but here the researchers are up against a significant cost hurdle. A trial of the vaccine would most likely cost 700 million euros, or nearly a billion dollars. Funding is already being raised both in the U.S and Europe for the efforts through the Europe-based Diabetes Prediction and Prevention project (DIPP), but much more will be needed, said lead researcher Heikki Hyöty.

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Craig Idlebrook is managing editor for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. He's written about health policy, environmental health, community health, and maternal health for over 25 publications. You can reach him at cidlebrook@epscomm.com.