Exciting Study Shows Great Promise for Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine

May 4, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A team of researchers from Down Under may be on the brink of developing a vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes, preventing the serious autoimmune disease that shortens lives and strikes 30,000 people every year in the U.S., affecting many children. Researchers discovered a molecule, called BCMA that they successfully used to block the B cells responsible for producing antibodies, which attack insulin producing cells in patients suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.

The team of PhD student Eliana Mariño and Dr Shane Grey, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, conducted this groundbreaking study. Mariño and Grey, in previous studies, found that the B cells were responsible for triggering T cells to produce antibodies to fight against insulin cells, causing diabetes. This finding led the crack team of Eliana Mariño and Grey, to study ways to block the faulty B cells before they have a chance to wreck havoc on insulin producing cells.

And they were successful in preventing the onset of the disease in special lab mice that spontaneously develop Type 1 diabetes. The discovery that may one day lead to a cure involved a tiny molecule, called BCMA. The researchers injected the mice with BCMA that blocked a hormone, called BAFF, which is responsible for setting off the B cells that give the marching orders to the T cells, ordering them to start killing off insulin producing cells.

The researchers theorized that when the B cells are blocked, a subclass of T cells known as T regulatory cells multiplied to stop the killer T cells from attacking the production of insulin cells.

Mariño has great hope for this research saying, “This is a remarkable finding, as other B cell depletion methods tested elsewhere have just delayed or reduced disease incidence.” After further study and human clinical trials, the world could be seeing a cure for Type 1 Diabetes in the very near future.

The BCMA molecule used by Mariño and Grey to inhibit the BAFF hormone has other applications as well. BCMA is now being used in clinical trials for other autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and Lupus.

The complete study is available in the International Journal of Diabetes.



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