Action Medical Research

Diabetes - improving a vaccine to prevent type 1 diabetes

Studying how to improve the effectiveness of a vaccine being developed to prevent type 1 diabetes.

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It ran from 9:30 AM, 30 May 2009 to 4:22 PM, 21 June 2011

Registered Charity in England and Wales (208701)





  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Medical ResearchMedical Research


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease, usually diagnosed in children or young adults, that affects around 350,000 people in the UK and millions worldwide. There has been a major increase in the numbers of children suffering from type 1 diabetes over the past 50 years and children under the age of 5 are increasingly affected. The cells which normally produce insulin in the pancreas are destroyed by the body's own immune system, leaving sufferers dependent on multiple daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar. Without insulin treatment the condition would be fatal. Even with the best available insulin treatments, patients are at risk of developing long term complications which include kidney disease, blindness, foot ulcers, heart attacks and strokes. It may be possible in the future to “vaccinate” against type 1 diabetes by altering the activity of the immune system using parts of the proteins which are found in the cells in the pancreas. In this project the researchers aim to develop simple methods of treating the skin prior to 'vaccination' which will enhance the desirable effects of the injection on the immune system. They will initially carry out this research in healthy volunteers. The results of this study will be used in future trials of treatments to prevent type 1 diabetes. An effective vaccine, if successful, would completely revolutionise the treatment of type 1 diabetes. There are no effective treatments to prevent or improve abnormally slow growth of babies in the womb. Ultrasound scans in these pregnancies show that blood flow through the placenta is often reduced, so that the baby receives insufficient essential nutrients which in turn will limit growth. Scientists think that small proteins called potassium channels, which are vital for control of normal blood flow, may not work correctly in the placenta in affected pregnancies. In this study, researchers will study blood flow in the placenta in two groups of women; one with healthy pregnancies and a second group whose babies have restricted growth. Ultrasound scans will be used to study placental and fetal blood flow prior to delivery. After delivery, blood vessels collected from the placenta, will be studied in the laboratory to find out if the reduced blood flow in FGR is due to altered activity of potassium channels. If it is shown that potassium channels cause placental blood vessels to work abnormally in FGR there are drug treatments which could be used to correct the channel's behaviour. It is hoped that this would improve blood flow, promote baby's growth in the womb and decrease the number of babies who die, are born too soon or are ill following birth.