Published: 20-11-2017 13:00 | Updated: 20-11-2017 14:17

Enterovirus vaccine prevented type 1 diabetes in mice

In a study published in Diabetologia, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and the University of Tampere, Finland, report that an enterovirus vaccine can protect against virus-induced diabetes in a mouse model for type 1 diabetes. A vaccine for human use is now under development by the Finnish company Vactech Ltd. and its American collaborator Provention Bio.

Professor Malin Flodström TullbergType 1 diabetes is the most common, chronic, life-threatening disease in children, and continues to increase worldwide. Finland and Sweden have the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world with more than 1 in 200 sufferers in Sweden. To date, the exact causes of the disease are not known. One of the environmental factors that has been touted as a potential cause is infection with common cold viruses known as enteroviruses. However, no firm evidence exists proving their role.

No severe side effects

In this study, the researchers have used an experimental mouse model to determine the involvement of these viruses through testing of the efficacy of a novel prototype vaccine in preventing type 1 diabetes after enterovirus infection. The vaccine prevented virus-induced type 1 diabetes and protected against other signs of virus infection without any severe adverse effects.

“These results indicate the potential that such a vaccine has for elucidating the role of enteroviruses in human type 1 diabetes. If they prove to be involved, vaccination with an enterovirus vaccine would provide a viable preventative treatment for virus-induced type 1 diabetes”, says Professor Malin Flodström-Tullberg at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine, Huddinge, whose research group was responsible for the preclinical studies.

Important step before studies in humans

The study was done in collaboration with researchers at the University of Tampere who produced the prototype vaccine. Work is currently ongoing at the University of Tampere to develop a vaccine that targets a greater number of viruses, all of which have been implicated in causing type 1 diabetes. The model that was established together with researchers at Karolinska Institutet will be used as a platform to test further enterovirus vaccines in so-called proof-of-concept studies. These studies are necessary before progress to a clinical set-up in humans.

Novel enterovirus vaccines for clinical use in humans is currently under development by Vactech Ltd., Finland, and its collaborator Provention Bio, USA.

The research was supported by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) and by Barndiabetesfonden (the Swedish Child Diabetes Foundation). The Tekes-funded consortium Therdiab includes, besides University of Tampere and Karolinska Institutet, several Finnish Biotech companies including Vactech Ltd.

This news article is based on a press release from the University of Tampere.


“A Coxsackievirus B vaccine protects against virus-induced diabetes in an experimental mouse model of type 1 diabetes”
Virginia M. Stone, Minna M. Hankaniemi, Emma Svedin, Amirbabak Sioofy-Khojine, Sami Oikarinen, Heikki Hyöty, Olli H. Laitinen, Vesa P. Hytönen, Malin Flodström-Tullberg
Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]), online 18 November 2017