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New Evidence for Role of Specific Virus in Type 1 Diabetes

Discovery paves way for vaccine therapy (October 22)

Type 1 diabetes is a disease caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is often diagnosed in childhood and requires life-long treatment with daily insulin injections.

One group of viruses — the enteroviruses — has been linked to human type 1 diabetes in several reports. These viruses are common in children, and more than 100 different enterovirus types have been identified in humans. A subset of these enteroviruses can cause serious illnesses, such as myocarditis and meningitis, as well as paralytic disease, such as polio.

Researchers in Finland have reported the results from two studies that identified the enterovirus types associated with type 1 diabetes. Their findings appear in the journal Diabetes.

One study involved children taking part in the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study, which was a birth cohort study that observed children at genetic risk for type 1 diabetes from birth up to a diagnosis of clinical diabetes or the age of 15 years. The other study (the VirDiab trial) included children with newly diagnosed diabetes from five European countries.

The results from these studies showed that group-B coxsackieviruses were associated with the risk of type 1 diabetes, whereas 35 other enterovirus types did not show such a connection. These findings are in line with other recent reports suggesting that group-B coxsackieviruses can spread to the pancreas and damage insulin-producing cells.

According to the authors, the new discovery paves the way for future research aimed at developing vaccines against these viruses to prevent type 1 diabetes. Since the group-B coxsackieviruses include only six enterovirus types, it may be possible to include all of them in the same vaccine. Effective vaccines are available against another enterovirus group, the polioviruses, which include three enterovirus types.

Source: Medical Xpress; October 22, 2013.

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