Researchers Use Nanoparticle "Vaccine" to Cure Diabetes in Mice

Using an innovative nanotechnology-based “vaccine,” researchers were able to successfully cure and prevent type 1 diabetes in mice. The study, co-funded by JDRF and published in the journal Immunity, provides important new insights into how to stop the immune attack that causes type 1 diabetes. It also shows the potential of “antigen specific” therapies, which target highly specific autoimmune responses without compromising the overall immune system. The researchers used a vaccine made of nanoparticles thousands of times smaller than the size of a cell, coated with proteins that are involved in immune cell communication. The nanoparticle treatment expanded a type of regulatory T cell that suppressed the aggressive immune attack on the pancreas. These nanoparticles restored normal blood sugar levels in a “humanized” mouse model of diabetes—highlighting the potential of the vaccine in people. The study took place at the University of Calgary in Alberta and was led by Dr. Pere Santamaria. (April 2010)