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Diabetes vaccine just '20 years away'

A vaccine for Type 1 diabetes that could transform the lives of those at high risk of the condition could be available within the next 20 years, according to Diabetes UK.

Speaking following a summit meeting of leading experts, Dr Alasdair Rankin, Diabetes UK's director of Research, said that a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes is now a realistic prospect. 

It could represent the” biggest single breakthrough” in diabetes research since insulin was first successfully used to treat Type 1 diabetes 91 years ago, he claims.

Past research

Treatments which do not prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes could still reduce health complications if they give patients a slightly longer period before they have to take insulin, scientists have claimed. 

Together with an increased understanding about how the immune system works in diabetes, there is real “excitement” about the potential for new approaches and combinations of existing treatments to make a much bigger difference.

UK supermarket chair Tesco decided to make Diabetes UK its National Charity Partner.

With its employees and customers aiming to raise £10 million, scientists believe this has enabled Diabetes UK to announce the biggest single research programme in the charity's history to look into a Type 1 vaccine. 

A spokesperson said: “There is now real hope that a vaccine will be available within the next 20 years. 

Dr Alasdair Rankin said the research community is “hugely excited” about the developments. 

He added: "This is not, of course, going to happen overnight. It is likely that the first vaccines we see will allow people to live longer before they develop Type 1 diabetes, rather than preventing it entirely. 

“But we know that if people who do develop Type 1 diabetes are treated early with a vaccine then it could provide some benefits that make their condition easier to manage and improve their health in the long term.”