Good news has been published about a vaccine that might help people with diabetes produce their own insulin. The injection helps reduce the number of cells that attack the needed insulin-producing cells. Diabetes occurs in people whose pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or whose cells do not react to the insulin produced. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugars and starches into energy. According to the Los Angeles Times article, “The success points to a potential new strategy for treating those in the early stages of the disease.”
The vaccine is different from conventional treatments of diabetes because instead of suppressing the immune system in general, researchers are developing it “to eliminate just the immune cells that attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”
The vaccine has already been tested on a small number of humans. According to the study, “Patients in the vaccine group, no matter the dosage, saw the number of killer cells fall and the amount of proinsulin rise over 15 weeks without affecting the rest of their immune system cells.” What’s more, no major side effects or safety concerns surfaced during the test.
Although preliminary, the news is clearly positive. As stated by Stanford University immunologist Dr. Lawrence Steinman, the main author of the study, “there is potential for protecting people from the ravages of this disease in the long run.”