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Business deal paves the way for diabetes vaccine

A vaccine against type-1 diabetes based on the GAD 65 protein could be on the market within two years, thanks to a deal between the Swedish company Diamyd Medical and a U.S. pharmaceutical company. The medical trials of the vaccine are being led by Professor Johnny Ludvigsson at Linköping University.

The deal was sealed on Tuesday 22 June with the announcement that Johnson & Johnson-owned Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals (OMJPI) will invest 45 million US dollars in Diamyd Medical. The money guarantees the continued development and the completion of the third phase of medical trials that is currently underway in Europe and the US. An additional 580 million US dollars are available to be invested at a later stage, according to a press release from Diamyd Medical.

“It's perfect, OMJPI are world leaders in diabetes pharmaceuticals and has the ambition to actually cure the disease in the future”, says Anders Essen-Möller, founder of Diamyd Medical, to Swedish Radio’s financial news.

Responsible for the European part of the Phase 3 trial, which consists of 334 children who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, is Johnny Ludvigsson, a professor of Paediatrics at Linköping University. He was also one of the discoverers of GAD and its role in the disease.

In October 2008, Johnny Ludvigsson and his colleagues published positive results of a study of 70 newly diagnosed children. Two injections of Diamyd ensured that the body’s own insulin production was maintained to a greater extent than it was in the group of children who were given an inactive substance, a so called placebo. The effect was greater the earlier the vaccination had taken place and lasted for as long as two and a half years after treatment.

“Now we want to know if multiple injections can provide an even better effect. A third of the children receive four injections of Diamyd at regular intervals, another third receive two active and two placebo injections, while the final third receive four injections of a placebo”, says Johnny Ludvigsson.

148 of the children are Swedish and the LiU team will in addition carry out extensive immunological studies on them to identify what differentiates the children who respond to the vaccine from those who do not. These studies are performed by a group of PhD students led by Rosaura Casas.

The vaccine will not be ready for approval and widely available until 2012 at the earliest.

Therese Winder 2010-06-29

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-06-29