Diabetes Vaccine - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Diabetes Vaccine


November is American Diabetes month.
There's a few good people in Pittsburgh who are pioneers. They're the first humans enrolled in a study designed to test a potential cure for Type-1 Diabetes. Vince Sherry reports on this exciting, early research.

Ryan Cupps turned 18 and signed right up for a study that could change the course of the disease he's had since he was little boy, Type-1 Diabetes.

Ryan says "I check my sugar at least six times a day. That's always the most important thing. Injections, I usually do about five or six a day."

Ryan is the first human in a study being done at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He's had a series of injections of a vaccine designed to block the autoimmune response that kills insulin-producting beta cells in the Pancreas, which causes Type-1 Diabetes.

Dr. Massimo Trucco, M.D. says "We want to block the killing of the cells. We want to intervene when there is still some beta cells alive and possibly when there is still the possibility to regenerate new beta cells."

As simple as it sounds, the process is complex. Blood is taken from each volunteer, processed in the lab to add the immune blockers, then reinjected into the patient's abdomen, near the Pancreas. It won't cure Ryan's diabetes, because his damage is done...but it has cured mice. And it might, one day, cure young kids, just developing the disease.

"My goal is to see a child with diabetes that can eat his ice cream without problems. But an ice cream in a cone." smiles Trucco.

Ryan says "Whether you're the first person doing it or the last person doing it, you're still doing it for a sick group of people and you're helping them all."

Dr. Trucco and his team hope to finish up this safety stage of the trial by the end of the year...and move onto a larger trial by 2010. This is Vince Sherry reporting.

Every year, roughly 13,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the U.S. There are approximately 1 million Americans, like Ryan, living with it.

About 23.6 million Americans have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes affects about one million children and teens in the U.S. It's caused when the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC are trying to produce a vaccine that prevents the immune system from destroying the insulin producing beta cells.
The scientists hope their research will eventually lead to a "cure" for type 1 diabetes.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.

Online Reporter: Ashley Gatz

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