Australian scientists are optimistic that a bank of blood donations will help them develop a vaccine for Type I diabetes.
The team from the St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research became the first researchers in the world to observe immune cells destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
They discovered that the immune cells targeted the C-peptide molecule and are now developing a blood test to measure the immune response to the molecule, which they believe causes type I diabetes.
Stuart Mannering, an immunologist at St Vincent’s, said the team was hopeful of developing a therapy that would teach the immune system not to attack the cells.
“That’s our long term goal,” Mannering told News Limited on Wednesday.
“The next step towards this is to measure that immune response in blood samples so we can try to detect it. before people develop symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.”
“What we would really like is a blood test that we can do after a much shorter period of time so that we can see if the immune response is going in the direction we want it.”
The test will be developed using samples from a biobank, a list of people willing to give blood samples for the sake of medical research.
“The living biobank is really essential because it allows us to do this study using human blood from people with and without diabetes and that’s a really critical stepping stone… to more human-based studies so we can develop something that will be useful in the clinic,” Mannering said.
The team received the Diabetes Australia 2017 Millennium Award on Wednesday which comes with a grant worth 100,000 U.S. dollars.