London: Scientists have claimed that a vaccine to prevent children from developing diabetes could be developed in 20 years, after they discovered a link between a family of viruses and the disease.
A team in Britain has found proof that Type I diabetes is caused by a virus after they spotted traces of an infection in more than 60% of sufferers and it will now pinpoint the exact virus involved and subsequently a vaccine to prevent the disease, the Diabetologia journal reported.
Team member Noel Morgan of Peninsula Medical School said: “We are genuinely excited by the findings of our study. This is the first time that scientists’ve been able to provide such extensive evidence for relationship between enteroviral infection of beta cells and development of type 1 diabetes.
“The next stages of research — to identify which enteroviruses are involved, how the beta-cells are changed by infection and the ultimate goal to develop an effective vaccine — will lead to findings that we hope will drastically reduce the number of people around the world who develop type 1 diabetes, and potentially type 2 diabetes as well.”
In their study, the scientists tested the pancreas of 72 young patients who had died of Type 1 diabetes over the past 25 years. The findings showed that in 60% of cases the children’s organs contained evidence of infection by viruses known as enteroviruses.
“There is nothing I am doing that could cure diabetes, but the work I am doing is to prevent the process starting at all,” team member Dr Alan Foulis of Glasgow Royal Infirmary was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying.
Type 1 diabetes usually starts in young people and results from the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, in turn regulating blood sugar levels.