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JDRF UK, Diabetes UK, and Tesco have announced $8.5 million of new funding for research into a type 1 diabetes (T1D) vaccine.

Boy and vaccine syringe

The new funding provided by JDRF in conjunction with Diabetes UK and Tesco Supermarkets could produce the first working vaccines for T1D within the next generation. Four UK based projects will be funded:

  • The UK’s first ever trial of a prototype vaccine in children and teenagers living with or at high risk of T1D
  • The development of a network to enable more T1D ‘immuno-therapy’ trials to take place in UK hospitals
  • Work to identify people newly diagnosed with T1D so that more people with the condition can be offered the important opportunity to take part in clinical trials
  • The establishment of a network of specialist laboratories to investigate exactly how different treatments work to control the immune attack that causes T1D and working out if it is possible to predict who will benefit most from each treatment

Decades of work by scientists has helped to identify key parts of the immune system that could be potential targets for a T1D immuno-therapy. Many of these have been the subject of clinical trials, which at first proved disappointing. However, an increased understanding of the immune attack that causes T1D has led to renewed hope that new therapies – or combinations of existing treatments – will have a much greater impact.

As well as helping to delay or even prevent T1D in those at high risk, these projects will also be an important step towards a cure for the condition. It’s likely that the vaccine will also work with other treatments that reduce damage to insulin producing cells in the pancreas caused by the immune system.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, and Charity Leader of the Year 2015, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Diabetes UK with support from Tesco on this important research. Our major search for a vaccine takes place within a global push, by some of the world’s very best scientists, to consign this life-threatening condition to history. The day will come when type 1 diabetes can be both prevented and cured.”

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