Type1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, a part of the immune system attacks the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, where insulin is produced and released. The body needs insulin which helps to regulate blood sugar.Diabetes sufferers must carefully monitor their blood sugar levels. Translational Researchers have long been seeking a therapy that targets just this part of the immune system while leaving the rest intact.The CD8 cells of the immune system are to mobile around the body checking if the cells or materials they come across are "healthy" and to be left (such as a bacterium or virus that causes disease) and should be destroyed.
A Translational medicine is designed to reduce attacks by misdirected CD8 cells on the insulin- producing beta cells of the pancreas. There are two features of the "reverse" vaccine they developed that make it a novel approach compared to conventional vaccines. Conventional vaccines typically deliver proteins or bits of proteins that boost the immune response against those organisms that produce them.
But instead of carrying the protein itself, this new vaccine contains some DNA of the gene that codes for the proinsulin protein and secondly, the translational medicine is not designed to boost the immune response to the protein but to shut it down.
Adapting an approach they were already in work, inserted a piece of DNA from the proinsulin gene that they suspected would cause the immune system to launch an anti-inflammatory signal only to the CD8 cells targeting proinsulin.
In other words, they designed a vaccine that makes the immune system attack the bit of itself that is attacking the beta cells. There appeared to be no serious side effects. And it looks like it will be years before such a vaccine is ready for human use.