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Stanford University researchers have developed a ‘reverse’ vaccine that promises to combat Type 1 diabetes. Taking these vaccines will get rid of the need to inject daily insulin shots, as the vaccine action promotes production of insulin in the pancreas. This vaccine shows potential in developing radical new treatments for Type 1 diabetes.

How does the reverse vaccine work?

The reverse vaccine works by turning off those malfunctioning parts of the immune system, the CD8 cells, which prevent the production of the hormone, insulin. Insulin is needed by the body to convert sugar into energy. The vaccine was created by modifying a specific piece of DNA that contained the INS gene, which helps to increase the level of proinsulin protein, manufactured in the beta cells of the pancreas.

In diabetes, CD8 immune cells misbehave and attack beta cells that contain proinsulin. Injecting the vaccine leads to an increase in proinsulin, and this in turn causes other immune cells to shut down the rogue CD8 cells through an anti-inflammatory response.

The future of diabetic therapy

As Stanford researchers note, while the vaccine doesn’t cure the patient of diabetes, it does reduce the injections they need to take. Diabetic patients will need to take a series of vaccine shots, followed by booster shots periodically. While the frequency of these shots is not as less as shots for diseases like Tetanus, it will be much lesser than the current situation of taking multiple insulin shots in one day.

Researchers have applied for a patent on this vaccine and have formed a company named Tolerian Inc. to develop this vaccine for wider use.