Jun 142011

Type 1 diabetes, which affects millions worldwide, is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Currently sufferers need daily insulin injections.

This new “Nasal Spray Vaccine” may help prevent future cases of type 1 diabetes.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute immunologist Professor Len Harrison from the institute’s Immunology division and Professor Peter Colman and Dr Spiros Fourlanos from the hospital’s Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology have demonstrated that the nasal insulin vaccine desensitises the human immune system, suppressing its reaction against insulin.

Their research was published in the April issue of the journal Diabetes

Study involved 52 adults who had early type 1 diabetes.

Although the participants were not at the stage of requiring insulin injections they had evidence of immunity to the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Participants were given either the nasal insulin vaccine or a placebo weekly for 12 months. “The results showed that the vaccine allowed the immune system to restore immune tolerance to insulin,” Professor Harrison said.

Professor Len Harrison described the finding as exciting, saying it provided the first proof the treatment worked in humans.

He said the spray markedly suppressed the immune response to insulin in 52 new type 1 diabetes patients.

The spray is not intended as a treatment for people who already have diabetes, but he said the results showed researchers were on the right track to developing a vaccine.

They are testing the nasal spray in young people with a family history of type 1 diabetes who have developed antibodies for the disease.

Professor Harrison said the vaccine stimulated the immune response in the lining of the nose and if a nasal spray were shown to work to prevent diabetes, vaccines could be developed for other autoimmune diseases.

”This is the first time anyone has shown that this novel vaccine approach can change the immune response.”

“It shows that the nasal vaccine will suppress the bad immune response to insulin, which is very exciting,” said Professor Len Harrison.

The nasal vaccine approach, if shown to be successful in human type 1 diabetes, could also be tested with different vaccines for the prevention of other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis,” he said.

The INIT II trial began in 2006 and is now halfway through the testing phase.

The trial is sponsored by Melbourne Health and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, through the Diabetes Vaccine Development Centre in Sydney.

More information about the trial can be found at http://www.stopdiabetes.com.au/

People who are interested in participating can register their interest online or contact Diabetes Australia Victoria on 1300 138 712.

wehi.edu.au/site/latest news/first human evidence that nasal vaccine could prevent type 1 diabetes

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