A European study part-funded by JDRF has confirmed the link between coxsackie B viruses and type 1 diabetes, a finding that may help develop a vaccine to prevent a significant number of cases of the condition.
In a group of just under 500 children from Finland, Sweden, England, France and Greece, half with and half without the condition, the researchers found that those with type 1 were 70 per cent more likely to have been exposed to coxsackie B virus strain 1 than children without diabetes.
Significantly more children with type 1 had developed antibodies against coxsackie B virus strain 1, indicating they had been exposed to infection, than those without diabetes. But exposure to other strains of coxsackie B virus did not differ between the two groups of children.
The new findings, which come from the Finnish Type 1 diabetes Prediction and Prevention birth cohort study and the five-country European VirDiab study research groups and are published in the journal Diabetes, back up previous results suggesting a link between infections with these viruses and development of type 1.
Coxsackie B viruses are part of the enterovirus family. Professor Heikki Hyӧty and team from the University of Tampere in Finland emphasise that more research is needed to investigate the causal relationship and mechanisms linking these viruses with type 1 diabetes.
However, as effective vaccines for polioviruses, which are another member of this enterovirus group, have been produced, it is hoped that a vaccine against the coxsackie B strain 1 virus can also be developed.