One in 400 American children will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an irreversible disease, but now scientists say a new vaccine could allow them to break the chain and one day find a cure. If the clinical trial for a vaccine called Diamyd should be successful, diabetes patients may never need an insulin injection again.
"We know that when kids are first diagnosed they still have some of their insulin-producing ability left and the idea of this research is to try and preserve what remains of those insulin producing cells --because that's really the first step in developing a cure down the road," explains pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Debra Counts.
Dr. Counts is leading Diamyd's clinical trial at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She says by giving the vaccine to patients within three months of their diagnosis, the hope is that it will stop the body from destroying islet cells, saving those remaining. Researchers will be studying the vaccine and its effectiveness on participants over the course of two and a half years.
Counts says the vaccine has the potential to not only cure Type 1 diabetes, but to prevent it from developing in people who are at high risk.