Wales

Type 1 diabetes: Cardiff researchers in vaccine trial

  • 6 February 2013
  • From the section Wales
girl injecting insulin
People with type 1 diabetes need insulin treatment to manage their condition

Researchers at Cardiff University are taking part in a clinical trial of a new vaccine to tackle type 1 diabetes.

They believe a vaccine can slow or stop the disease's development and recently-diagnosed adult volunteers are being sought to take part in the trial.

Type 1 affects about one in 250 people in the UK and is rising, especially in young children.

It involves a patient's immune system attacking the body's own insulin-making cells.

The resulting lack of insulin is life-threatening unless treated with replacement therapy.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 is not linked to obesity or lifestyle. Genes do appear to play a role.

Further treatments

Colin Dayan, professor of clinical diabetes and metabolism at Cardiff, who is leading the 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.

"Research to date shows that the treatment is safe, but we are in the early days and need to learn more about how it works in people in newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes.

"If effective, we can develop further treatments for individuals who are at risk of developing this type of diabetes later in life."

The Cardiff University team is working with King's College London on the trial with type 1 diabetes charity JDRF and the Australian Health and Medical Research Council.

Mark Peakman, professor of clinical immunology at King's, has developed the vaccine approach.

Protective

"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," he said.

"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."

The scientists are recruiting volunteers to take part in the clinical trial at four hospitals - 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.

Prof Dayan said they are looking for people who have only recently been diagnosed who may have only just started insulin treatment.

"Taking part involves having vaccination-type injections under the skin every two weeks for six months and giving blood and urine samples," he said.

Prof Dayan added: "Our ultimate hope is to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. We need to offer all people with diabetes the opportunity to participate in research.

"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."

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