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3.6 million for diabetes vaccine research

A vaccination with the protein GAD65 has proven able to curb the development of diabetes in children. Rosaura Casas, paediatrics researcher at Linköping University, has just received a large contribution in order to more closely investigate what actually happens in the immune system when the vaccine is injected.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells. Being able to retain a certain amount of cells is incredibly valuable, since it can facilitate control of the blood sugar level, and thereby relieve or delay the complications that often accompany the disease.

Two years ago, researchers at LiU and other places were able to show in a Phase II study that a vaccination with GAD65 (Diamyd®) could slow the breakdown of insulin-producing cells in children who had recently taken ill. A large Phase III study is now in progress on 334 children, including 148 Swedish children, in nine countries.

In this group, the LiU team is studying how the treatment affects the immune system, and how the autoimmune reaction against the insulin-producing cells eventually decreases.

“The results will help us understand the mechanisms lying behind treatment with GAD65,” says Casas, who has just received US$490,000 (3.6 million Swedish crowns) from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The money will go to finance three years of research.

GAD65 is a protein normally found in the brain, but is also found in the cell islands in the pancreas that excrete insulin. In Type 1 diabetes it seems to be a foreign substance, an autoantigen, that triggers the immune defence.

The vaccine was developed by the medicine company Diamyd Medical AB. The European portion of the Phase III study is being led by Johnny Ludvigsson of Linköping University.

Therese Winder 2010-10-14

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-11-24