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Type 1 diabetes usually strikes in childhood, turning the world of previously healthy children upside down. Suddenly, the baseball gloves, Barbies and other childhood joys are joined by the harsh reality of daily insulin injections and rigorous dietary requirements. While daily insulin injections keep those with diabetes alive, dreadful complications can result and the disease often shortens the lifespan of its sufferers.
Scientists at Diabetes & Immune Disease National Research Institute(DIDNRI) are well aware of the severe challenges of type 1 diabetes and are working very hard toward a cure. Their research focuses on fighting type 1 diabetes and other disorders by unraveling the mysteries of the immune system.
The Institute's search for a cure took a major step in 2006, with the announcement by DIDNRI researcher Matthias von Herrath, M.D., of a new combination therapy that may halt type 1 diabetes, when caught in the early stages. The finding generated international headlines and significant excitement in the scientific community.
Dr. von Herrath's study in mice used a combination of a vaccine to stimulate beneficial immune cells that can prevent pancreatic cell destruction and an immunosuppressant(anti-CD3 antibody)that prevents this destruction. The combination reversed recent onset type 1 diabetes in the majority of animals tested. Work on this promising research continues, with clinical testing currently under way on each of the combination therapy components individually. If required government approvals are received, human clinical trials of the combination therapy are planned.