(10/01/13) - For the first time ever, there may be a vaccine that could reverse
diabetes. It could stop the disease in its tracks, promising news for the 3
million Americans living with type-one diabetes.
Every second of every day, Spike Loy has to think about his blood sugar. He was diagnosed with type-one diabetes when he was 7.
Spike tests himself up to 10 times a day and has to worry about potential complications like nerve damage, blindness and stroke. But Stanford researchers are studying a vaccine that could reverse the disease.
"We saw some very exciting outcome measures," says Dr. Larry Steinman.
Type-one diabetes causes the immune system to stop beta cells from making insulin. The vaccine uses DNA to attract and attack the bad cells that destroy insulin, while leaving the good beta cells alone.
"We bait the bad cells, kill them, and leave the beta cells in the pancreas to survive and function as insulin-producing cells," Steinman says.
Researchers gave 80 patients the vaccine once a week for 12 weeks. Those who received it had more beta cells. It essentially reversed the effects of the disease.
Future studies of the vaccine will test whether patients can reduce, or maybe even one day eliminate, their daily insulin doses. There were no significant side effects observed in the study.
No DNA vaccine has ever been approved for human use.
ABC12 Main Station