Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, is caused by both genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, researchers believe. Biotech startup Provention Bio is trying to reduce the environmental risk by way of a vaccine scientists believe can prevent up to 50% of new Type 1 diabetes cases.
Previous epidemiological studies and experiments on animals and human tissues have suggested a possible link between enterovirus (EV) infections and Type 1 diabetes, according to a summary co-authored by Provention’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Francisco Leon, M.D., Ph.D., which appeared recently in the journal Expert Review of Vaccines. EVs are known to infect the pancreas and cause a diabetes-like disease in animals. Additionally, scientists have prevented diabetes in mice with attenuated virus vaccines or recombinant VP1 viral proteins.
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