Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are incorrectly identified as invading bodies by the class of white blood cells known as T cells. When this happens, the pancreas cannot retain and circulate enough insulin to balance glucose levels in the body. The increased glucose levels can be controlled by artificially injecting insulin into the body on a regular basis. Less invasive or more permanent treatments are extremely difficult to develop because they typically decrease the effectiveness of the immune system and make patients susceptible to a wide span of other diseases.
A study led by Dr. Pere Santamaria of the Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Center at the University of Calgary showed that the new nanoparticle vaccine was able to cure mice already infected with Type I diabetes and statistically slow the onset of the disease in at-risk mice. The mice exhibited no weakening of their general immune system and did not acquire infections or other diseases at a higher rate than mice not participating in the study. If replicated in humans, these results could greatly increase the quality of life of the many millions of patients affected by the disease.
Specific details of the nanoparticle vaccine and how it works have not been released to the public, but the vaccine has been licensed to Parvus Therapeutics for the purpose of eventually bringing the therapy to market commercially.
TFOT has previously reported on other diabetes research studies and treatments including a non-invasive glucose monitor that doesn’t draw blood to test sugar levels, a new saliva test to help uncover undiagnosed Type 2 diabetics, a drug regimen to treat Type 1 diabetes without the need for insulin injections, and insulin nanostructures that can be inhaled instead of injected. TFOT has also reported on other uses for nanotechnology in medicine including the development of an artificial nanoparticle of HDL cholesterol and a new method of delivering vaccines through nanoparticles.
Read more about Dr. Santamaria’s study in this University of Calgary press release.