Researchers in Finland have announced plans to start clinical trials in 2018 for a new vaccine that could potentially prevent type 1 diabetes.
Why are they doing these trials?
Enteroviruses are a group of viruses common in children, and usually give cold-like symptoms. Previous research however has indicated that in some cases, enteroviruses can infect the insulin-producing beta cells, and are potentially linked to the onset of type 1.
In 2014, the Finnish team led by Professor Heikki Hyöty found that a specific type of enterovirus, called coxsackievirus B1, was associated with an increased risk of type 1 onset in children already at high risk of developing type 1. Based on these findings, the researchers worked to develop a vaccine to protect against group B coxsackieviruses. They found that the vaccine was safe and effective when tested in mice, and so the team will now be moving onto trials in people.
“Already now it is known that the vaccine is effective and safe on mice. The developing process has now taken a significant leap forward as the next phase is to study the vaccine in humans.”
JDRF has contributed towards funding the development of the vaccine, and will continue to fund the team through the clinical trials.
What will the trials look like?
The vaccine will have to pass three clinical trial phases before it can be approved for use. In Phase 1, the researchers will test the safety of the vaccine by giving it to a small number of healthy adult volunteers. In Phase 2, the researchers will give the vaccine to children to test whether it is safe and effective against enteroviruses. In Phase 3, the researchers will test whether the vaccine is effective in preventing the onset of type 1.
What does this mean for type 1?
Clinical trials are lengthy processes, and so it may take around eight years before the researchers will be able to tell if the vaccine can prevent type 1. If successful however, the preventative vaccine would be the first of its kind, and could protect thousands of children at high risk of type 1 from developing the condition.