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Medicine Science

Finnish Team Makes Diabetes Vaccine Breakthrough 202

jones_supa writes "A team working at Tampere University, Finland has discovered the virus that causes type 1 diabetes. The enterovirus penetrates the pancreas and destroys insulin-producing cells, eventually causing diabetes. Researchers have looked at more than a hundred different strains of the virus and pinpointed five that could cause diabetes. They believe they could produce a vaccine against those strains. One virus type has been identified to carry the biggest risk. A vaccine could also protect against its close relatives, to give the best possible effect. A similar enterovirus causes polio, which has been almost eradicated in many parts of the world thanks to vaccination programmes. A prototype diabetes vaccine has already been produced and tested on animals. Taking the vaccine through a clinical trial would cost some 700 million euros. Some funding is in place from the United States and from Europe, but more is required. Professor Heikki Hyöty says that money is the biggest obstacle in moving to testing in humans, but he sees that people are interested in their research and that the funding problems will ultimately be solved."
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Finnish Team Makes Diabetes Vaccine Breakthrough

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  • Not much info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @12:21AM (#45197333) Homepage Journal

    I nodded this in the firehose because it looked interesting.

    There's not much information in the linked article. Can anyone give us more info? Anyone who reads Finnish care to comment on the source - is it reliable, are the researchers legitimate?

    • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @12:35AM (#45197411) Homepage Journal

      it sounds legitimate. finnish articles don't have that much more info. they're gathering money for trials. but the source in finnish medical scene should be treated legitimate from what I know(it's a well known big university in Finland, from Finlands 2nd biggest city). diabetes-alliance(not probably best translation..) treats it as legitimate, the mentioned prof admits that so far it is not water tight connection yet. it's related to gene sampling and following of kids with high risk of diabetes 1, that project starting back in 1994.

      there's two things in play, the virus and a genetic factor(a risk gene, which is supposed to fight the virus).

      more info in finnish: []

      earlier stuff on the connection between the virus has been published in british medical journal, fwiw.

      • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

        by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:57AM (#45198037) Homepage Journal

        it sounds legitimate.

        I review stuff like this for a living. This does look like a legitimate, promising study.

        The guy has done a lot of research. []

        TFA doesn't say what the virus is, but I guess that it's group B coxsackievirus 1. [] that Hyöty was working on.

        That said, it's a mouse study. I always used to say, "Mice, humans, what's the difference? We're all mammals, right?"

        Then a researcher at Rockefeller University clued me in. "Humans are not big mice."

        As the saying goes, "We've cured cancer in mice a million times."

        It's great to model a disease in mice. But the diabetes type I they model in mice might not be the same as type I diabetes in humans. Probably for every 10 mouse studies, 1 holds up in humans. And for every 10 human studies, 1 turns out to be actually useful against the disease.

        But hey, this is immunology. When it comes down to what causes a disease like diabetes type I, nobody really knows, so 1 in 100 is pretty good odds.

        If you have 100 researchers working on it, you've got a pretty good chance that somebody will get it.

        Diabetes type I is an autoimmune disease. You get exposed to a trigger, your immune system goes after the trigger, but it also starts attacking other things. In diabetes type I, it attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin. [] The trigger might be a virus, or it might be something else. Hyöty thinks it's a virus, in fact group B coxsackievirus 1. If he can prove that it is a virus and he's identified it (in humans, not just mice), he'll be doing pretty good.

        And if Hyöty can come up with a vaccine that will prevent coxsackievirus infection in humans, we can give it to kids and they'll never get diabetes type I. That will be great. I hope it works.

        ”We know that this vaccine is effective in mice,” noted Hyöty. ”It is important to test it in people, so that we can be sure that the vaccine prevents diabetes.

        That's the important qualification. If he's ready to go to test it in humans, that's pretty good. But he's still got a long way to go. And a lot of vaccines don't make it.

        Taking the vaccine through a clinical trial would cost some 700 million euros. Some funding is in place from the United States and from Europe, but more is required.

        Oh, give him the money. We've wasted E700 million on a lot of stupider things that you could probably think of.

        If this vaccine is promising, then the big pharmaceutical companies will probably spot him E700 million for clinical trials (although that does seem a bit high). If it really does prevent type I diabetes, it should be a successful vaccine.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          group B coxsackievirus 1

          Who the hell came up with that name? I can't be the only one that wants to pronounce that as cock-suckie-virus...

          • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

            by dinfinity ( 2300094 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @04:39AM (#45198401)

            Imagine living in a town called that: "The virus family he discovered was eventually given the name Coxsackie, for the town of Coxsackie, New York, a small town on the Hudson River where Dalldorf had obtained the first fecal specimens.[3]"
            "The village name is a native word mak-kachs-hack-ing, and when purchased by the Dutch settlers was written as Koxhackung.[1] It is generally translated as "Hoot-owl place"[2] or "place of many owls"."

            But I'm pretty sure Dalldorf et al didn't care about the latter and still giggle when hearing their peers say Coxsackievirus.

            • mak-kachs-hack-ing

              You should probably see a doctor about that.

            • by Stanza ( 35421 )

              I've met several people who live in Old Lyme and they're always thrilled to tell someone it's where Lyme's disease was named after.

          • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @04:44AM (#45198421)
            There was also recently someone in /r/learnprogramming who was new to C++ and his first impression was that std::cout << "Hello world"; looks just like "count your STDs and tell the whole world".
          • group B coxsackievirus 1

            Who the hell came up with that name? I can't be the only one that wants to pronounce that as cock-suckie-virus...

            I was thinking more cock-sack-le-virus. Probably something you get from a French prostitute...

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          the articles I read on finnish media related to this(earlier too) mentioned them been using data from finnish children(tens of thousands) and had special thanks to people who had submitted their infants dna to the (20 years now) running study.

          they looked for kids who had the risk gene and followed them(and traces of the viruses in them) to see if they got it(this was probably helpful in just providing timely diagnosis to the kids too), so not all related to it is mouse studies.

          now I can see how a vaccine st

        • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @09:38AM (#45199939) Homepage

          Thing is: The virus doesn't directly cause much damage to the pancreas. The theory here is that it causes the immune system to start attacking the pancreas (maybe due to similar antigens between beta cells and the virus???)

          Tuning the immune system to more aggressively attack the virus might instead cause Type I diabetes here...

          • by nbauman ( 624611 )

            That's an interesting point.

            The mouse vaccine doesn't cause diabetes I, so it should be OK.

            I assume the vaccine attacks a different part of the virus than the part that is immunologically similar to beta cells.

            But it's something to worry about.

        • So what you're saying is, don't go getting all Hyöty Työty on us just because you think you've cured cancer ..

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I live in Tampere. On a hunch I'd say it's reliable. Tampere University is a well respected Uni. To be more sure I'd have to read the original study. Would not be the first time the actual study is good, but then media just interprets and reports it all wrong. The actual study might be about exoplanets for all I know.

      • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

        by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:16AM (#45197605)

        has discovered the virus that causes type 1 diabetes.

        Already a problem right there, though it might be in translation. There are several viruses known to trigger the autoimmune response that generally causes type 1 diabetes.

        • Re:Not much info (Score:4, Informative)

          by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:24AM (#45197641) Homepage Journal

          multiple similar enteroviruses, according to the articles. they're developing a vaccine for the most common one which may or may not also work for it's relatives...

        • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

          by Novus ( 182265 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @03:48AM (#45198205) Homepage

          That's almost certainly a translation error. The University of Tampere press release [] states that "these studies clearly show that members of the group B coxsackieviruses are associated with the risk of type 1 diabetes", and the offending sentence in the Yle article would be the same in Finnish irrespective of whether the virus found is the only one or not (e.g. "löytänyt viruksen" would be "discovered a/the virus"). Finnish grammar doesn't have the concept of definiteness, meaning that a translator working from a Finnish source text would in many cases have to guess the intended meaning or look it up elsewhere. For similar reasons, many Finns have problems figuring out whether to use a definite or indefinite article when writing in English.

          • I thought Finnish had like 6 extra tenses/conjugations/whatever we don't have in English, though? That's just not one of them?

          • by pepty ( 1976012 )
            That makes sense. For a while now coxsackievirus and rubella have both been suspected to trigger diabetes in those susceptible to type I, and it looks like cytomegalovirus can be involved in type II.
        • > There are several viruses known to trigger the autoimmune response

          Still significant. Do a search for the *bovine* enterovirus and diabetes. In the alternative medicine world, cows milk has been linked to diabetes ever since I can remember. A quick google shows this link has now been proven:


          Interaction of enterovirus infection and cow's milk-based formula nutrition in type 1 diabetes-associated autoimmunity.


          Immunogenetics Labo

          • by geekoid ( 135745 )

            The cute that you can cut and paste, next time try to actually understand.
            It's not a study, it's an extrapolation from a regression analysis.


    • Re:Not much info (Score:5, Informative)

      by niftydude ( 1745144 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:14AM (#45197599)
      The journal paper the news article is based on seems to be here: []


      Enteroviruses have been connected to type 1 diabetes in various studies. The current study evaluates the association between specific enterovirus subtypes and type 1 diabetes by measuring type-specific antibodies against the group B coxsackieviruses (CBV) which has been linked to diabetes in previous surveys. Altogether 249 children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and 249 control children matched according to sampling time, gender, age and country were recruited in Finland, Sweden, England, France and Greece during the years 2001-2005 (mean age 9 years; 55 % boys). Antibodies against CBV1 were more frequent among diabetic children than in control children (OR=1.7, 95%CI=1.0-2.9) while other CBV types did not differ between the groups. CBV1-associated risk was not related to HLA genotype, age or gender. Finnish children had lower frequency of CBV antibodies than children in other countries. The results support previous studies suggesting an association between group B coxsackieviruses and type 1 diabetes, highlighting the possible role of CBV1 as a diabetogenic virus type.

    • The summary states:

      A team working at Tampere University, Finland has discovered the virus that causes type 1 diabetes.

      - which, of course, isn't true; they have at most discovered "...A virus that causes diabetes 1..." - there may well be many others out there.

      Diabetes 1 is an autoimmune disease (ie. one where the body immune defence attacks the body's own cells), and it is entirely plausible that a virus could trigger an autoimmune reaction, and viruses could even be the most common trigger for every type of autoimmunity, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus etc.

      • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

        There's a comment above about Finnish grammar explaining why the is likely a translation error. The actual source says a virus rather than the virus.

        • Re:Not much info (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:35AM (#45199085)

          Submitter here. I was able to locate the Finnish version from YLE News website []. There is indeed a possibility for that kind of translation error. I'll try to retranslate the top part:

          A virus is being uncovered behind type I diabetes, a disease found especially in children. In particular, it is an enterovirus, which invades the pancreas and destroys the cells producing insuline. A vaccine against the viruses can be created.

          There are over hundred of various enteroviruses. A research team conducted by virology professor Heikki Hyöty has gone through all the strains and has been able to mark out five of them which cause diabetes. They can be compiled into a vaccine.

          "We have recognized one type of virus which carries the biggest risk factor. We could also put its relatives into the vaccine, to get the best possible effect", says professor Hyöty from University of Tampere.

    • Best media reporting []

      Most notable analysis (scroll to bottom, in square brackets) []

      The ProMed moderator links to related background research, points out that there are 5 specie of Enterovirus distinct enough that one vaccine could not fit all, it is 'premature' to announce it this way until the particular agent and mechanism is identified.

      So by all means forge ahead, but be prudently wary of anyone who implies thi

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @12:22AM (#45197339)

    progress toward making a vaccine is good and all but when will they finnish it. ;)

  • by Kyle Jacoby ( 2973265 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @12:23AM (#45197347)
    A great advancement, but there are undoubtedly many causes of type 1 diabetes, many of which have been described in the scientific literature. Just a little bit of an overstatement to say, "the virus that causes type 1 diabetes," has been discovered.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      the researcher in question states that they need to study more. but in most cases of diabetes 1 they seem to have detected pieces of the virus. they've been running a study since 1994. according to this theory it is a genetic dysfunctionality that doesn't fight the virus and the virus which causes it.

      mind you this is just type 1 and not type 2 eat-too-much-crap diabetes.

    • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

      The virus is a mistranslation, as noted in a comment above regarding Finnish grammar.

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      Or maybe it's a bacterium. Here's another one from the DIPP-Finnish Type 1 Diabetes and Prediction study: []

      Specific Bacteria That Precede Autoimmune Diabetes Identified: New Potential Avenues for Early Disease Detection and Prevention

      Dec. 7, 2011 — A study led by Matej Orei from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland suggests that autoimmune diabetes is preceded by diminished gut microbial diversity of the Clostridium leptum subgroup, elevat

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @12:27AM (#45197369)
    It is worth noting this is for type 1 diabetes, not type 2 which is the modern plague resulting largely from bad diet and inactivity. That said, if you know somebody for whom diabetes is a lifelong affliction since childhood, and kids who need shots for diabetes, that's type 1. A cure would be a huge deal.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @01:05AM (#45197547)

      A cure would be a huge deal.

      Fortunately for potential, future, type 1 diabetics, this is a vector for prevention. Unfortunately for those of us who are already type 1 diabetics, this does not appear to be a cure.

      The key to type 1 is that it is a disease of the immune system. If this virus actually caused diabetes, then diabetes would be a communicable disease, and everyone who got exposed to the virus would become diabetic. Instead, the disease is genetically inherited and only expresses itself if the person is exposed to a certain class of virus. What this virus does is elicit an immune response from people. In a small percentage of people who have inherited a defect in their immune system, their bodies react by producing antibodies that do not just kill off the virus in question, but also kill off the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. It appears that these researchers have found that class of virus, but it is the diabetics immune response to the viruses that kills insulin production.

      If you inherit the defect, and don't ever get exposed to the virus, you don't become diabetic. If you are exposed to the virus and aren't genetically keyed to produce these T-cells that are lethal to your insulin producing cells, then you don't become diabetic.

      I became a type 1 at 28, after I was sick for a week. My father became type 1 at 32. They used to call it Juvenile Diabetes, but obviously that is a misnomer. The later you get exposed to the virus, the later you become diabetic.

      • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:52AM (#45198015)
        I became a type 1 at 28, after I was sick for a week. My father became type 1 at 32. They used to call it Juvenile Diabetes, but obviously that is a misnomer. The later you get exposed to the virus, the later you become diabetic.

        Similarly T2 used to be called "Mature Onset Diabetes". Thus you end up with terms such as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA) and Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY). IIRC the oldest person diagnosed T1 was in their 90's and the youngest person diagnosed T2 around 7.
        It turns out than many people with MODY actually have a mitochondial abnormaility. Whilst this produces "insulin resistance" the biochemical mechanism is different.
      • This is something that confuses me about all this.

        If you have a genetic problem, where your immune response to the virus is what causes you to end up with Type 1 diabetes, how is a vaccine going to help? Surely even a small dose, which triggers the immune response, is going to have the same effect?

        • if the vacine produces an appropriate antibody, they may not become infected with the virus and have the body produce an inappropriate antibody to the virus which damages the cells. Naturally we produce antibodies for the virus itself and antibodies for infected cells, if there is enough viral antibodies the cells may not get infected enough to produce infected cell antibodies.

    • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:26AM (#45197919)
      It is worth noting this is for type 1 diabetes, not type 2 which is the modern plague resulting largely from bad diet and inactivity. That said, if you know somebody for whom diabetes is a lifelong affliction since childhood, and kids who need shots for diabetes, that's type 1.

      Genetics appears to be a strong factor in ALL forms of diabetes.
      As for "bad diet" this may well be the low fat, but very high glucose, diet pushed as "healthy" since the late 1970's (in the US). Given that diabetes is the inability to effectivly handle dietary glucose.
      • I thought it was Fructose and Sucrose (and by extension, HFCS), and not Glucose that was causing this.

        • Fructose is associated with fatty liver disease, fructose is a monosaccaride that the liver must convert into glucose before it can be utilized, sucrose (table sugar) is a disaccaride composed of fructose and glucose.

    • I want to just make this incredibly clear to people: Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes are two completely different diseases. They have different causes and different treatments. IMHO, they shouldn't even share the same name.
    • .... if you know somebody for whom diabetes is a lifelong affliction since childhood, and kids who need shots for diabetes, that's type 1. A cure would be a huge deal.

      Used to be, Kids are now developing type II diabetes at an alarming rate; youthfull energy levels used to provide immunity to type II to kids, but their diets suck just as bad as adult's, schools are dropping gym classes and receses and they are vegging out in front of the TV, video game and cellphone so they are just as sedentary as adults now.

  • by aussie.virologist ( 1429001 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:28AM (#45197929)

    There is a significant body of literature attempting to associate the onset of type 1 diabetes with infection by members of the species B enteroviruses, specifically CVB's (Coxsackieviruses B1 to B6) , if you search pubmed you will find hundreds of manuscripts. The problem has been nailing down a definitive causal relationship, from my understanding it is thought that there may be an element of molecular mimicry involved in the disease (or something similar). Essentially the virus infects the host and damages specific parts of the pancreas, the host's immune system mounts a response to the insult, but in the process creates antibodies that target the hosts own islet cells, resulting in the autoimmune disease that is type 1 diabetes. The problem of definitively implicating CVB's for type 1 diabetes is similar in some ways to that of other enterovirus infections like Polio. Basically there are other host mediated issues at play but with Polio you are able to detect the virus around the time of infection, with diabetes the disease presents after the infection has been cleared, complicating matters. To this day we still don't understand why only about 1% of people infected with Polio will develop paralysis, whilst the majority of people ~95% will show no significant signs of illness. Host factors are really important and not fully understood, there may even be a role for certain bacteria in the gut assisting the infection!
    As a side note there has been some recent rumblings about the possibility of viral infections triggering transient type 2 diabetes, I can't link to any papers at the moment (too busy at work) but if anyone is interested I can have a dig around later.
    Hopefully the vaccine is able to account for the amount of drift in the enterovirus genome that occurs at up to ~1% per annum, a similar problem exists with the new enterovirus 71 vaccine, an emerging bug similar in presentation to Polio.

  • I was under the impression that most type 1 diabetes was cause by genetics. The brief article doesn't mention this at all. Does it then take both - genetic predisposition plus a virus? Or are these two entirely separate causes?

    • by Pranadevil2k ( 687232 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @04:05AM (#45198255)

      The research suggests that the genetic predisposition causes the immune system to act different in response to the virus. If the research is correct, then yes you need both the genetic factor and the virus to get type-1 diabetes. Of course, that completely discounts any other possible methods of 'catching' the disease. Since it is an autoimmune disorder, there are likely multiple factors involved. If this pans out and cures the most common of those factors, it may still not eliminate the disease.

  • What about P2RX7? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slew ( 2918 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @02:54AM (#45198025)

    P2RX7 [] was all the hype back in January. Here's a blog [] entry on it... Or the paper abstract [] for the more technically inclined (pay-wall for paper)...

    If people are interested, I think there is some more info in English concerning the earlier Tampere research here [] (for free)...

    Sometimes it's hard to predict what is going to work in bio-science just by seeing the techno-press response. Although polio is caused by an Enterovirus, so is the common cold (the variety caused by a Rhinovirus). Generally you get Enterovirus infections orally. Some Enteroviruses can eventually enter the bloodstream and infect other organs.

    Apparently, the Tampere study looked at the small-bowel mucosal biopsies of 120 patients and did a PCR technique to assess if there was likely a Enterovirus infection. 74% of people with type 1 diabetes tested positive, compared with 29% of the non-diabetic ones. On that basis they conclude that a persistent Enterovirus infection in the small-bowel might eventually spread to the pancreas where the on-going immune response might destroy the insulin producing cells [] leading to diabetes...

    So, I wasn't totally impressed after reading that paper, but you never know...

  • Hmm, I wonder if this explains the false positive results I got when trying to find genetic markers for T1D risk (chapter 5 of my thesis []).

  • Drug and medical supply companies make far too much money from diabetes. There is no way in hell they're ever going to allow researchers to cure it.

  • > "Taking the vaccine through a clinical trial would cost some 700 million euros"

    This is why I am always saying the FDA and similar organizations kill more than they save, by several orders of magnitude. All it takes is delaying introduction of one big cure by a few years and you've cost more lives than are lost because bad drugs get introduced too soon.

    There were no mass epidemics from snake oil. Just watch "new" drugs carefully and stop as necessary.

    It's a political issue, though, and a few hundred i

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "There were no mass epidemics from snake oil."
      yes, there was and still is.

      You know what? I"m not going to get into it. Yu are clearly ignorant of the FDA and it's history, you have no clarity way from you narrative to actually look at facts.

      Ignorant SOB

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      "There were no mass epidemics from snake oil."

      That couldn't possibly be because the FDA has been doing its job, right? No way!
  • Find some death row or life without parole inmates and let them be guinea pigs to test the vaccine. I'm sure you'd have volunteers.

  • The Faustman Lab [] at Mass General has already been going down this road for years, and are ready for a phase II trial now -- but they only need to raise $16 million more. Just sayin', if anyone is thinking about donating, the Faustman Lab seems further along.

  • Another way for humans to abdicate responsibility for their health!

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva