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Adults and children with early stage autoimmune diabetes may soon be able to get a shot that limits damage to the pancreas and preserves at least part of their ability to produce their own insulin. Even a very small amount of insulin production can make a big difference in the quality of life for diabetics, since it reduces the risk of complications. The patients affected include those with autoantibodies characteristic of type 1 diabetes or latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). Many adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also have these autoantibodies, and are later diagnosed with LADA.
Two vaccines in development are:
1. IBC-VS01. This is a synthetic form of insulin that is metabolically inactive, so it does not affect blood sugar levels. The research approach is similar to allergy shots. The vaccine has the potential to induce tolerance to the insulin-producing beta cells. A Phase I trial has been completed.
2. rhGAD65, also called Diamyd, from Diamyd Medical of Sweden. This vaccine is a biologic called recombinant human glutamic acid decarboxylase. The last patient in the European Phase III trial completed the program in February 2011, and the result are being analyzed currently (March 2011). The company plans to apply for approval to market the vaccine in Europe by the end of 2011. The DiaPrevent trial completed enrollment in December 2010 in the United States, and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2012.
Early detection of diabetes is of utmost importance to minimize damage from the autoimmune process as well as from unregulated blood sugar. The researchers of the IBC-VS01 trial reported that 60 to 85 percent of insulin-producing beta cells are already destroyed by the time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Thus the trial is restricted to individuals within three months of diagnosis.
The American Diabetes Association recommended in 2010 that the hemoglobin A1c test be used in addition to blood glucose tests to identify individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. Relatives of type 1 diabetics are at risk and may want more frequent testing.
Ask your doctor what the latest research results mean for you.