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Reverse Vaccine

July 9, 2013

A “reverse vaccine” may treat type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.



Reverse vaccines. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A breakthrough treatment for type 1 diabetes has passed its first human trial. Stanford University neurologist Larry Steinman calls it a “reverse vaccine.” Instead of stimulating an immune response, it selectively shuts down the rogue immune cells that attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Steinman says that specificity is critical.

LARRY STEINMAN (Stanford University):

For a disease like type 1 diabetes that’s a serious disease, but a disease that you can live a full life and a highly productive life, we don’t want to try approaches that are risky or are globally immune suppressive.

Treated patients also appeared to make more of their own insulin, suggesting the disease may be more reversible than expected. If the success continues, Steinman says the treatment could be adapted for other autoimmune diseases, by inserting DNA specific to each disease. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed when patients are young. (Jupiter Images)