All day long, Spike Loy has to think about his blood sugar. Loy has had Type 1 diabetes since age seven.
“My mom tested me for years," he said.
Now he tests himself up to 10 times a day and worries about potential complications like nerve damage, blindness, and stroke. But Stanford researchers are studying a vaccine that could change all that.
"We saw some very exciting outcome measures," said Dr. Larry Steinman, professor of pediatrics and neurology at Stanford University.
In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system stops beta cells from making insulin. The vaccine uses DNA to attract and attack the bad cells while leaving the good cells alone.
"We bait the bad cells, kill them and leave the beta cells in the pancreas to survive and function as insulin-producing cells," said Dr. Steinman.
Researchers gave 80 patients the vaccine once a week for 12 weeks. Those who received it had more beta cells. It essentially stalled their disease.
Loy says this is one step closer to what he wants most: a cure.
Future studies of the vaccine will test whether patients can reduce or maybe even one day eliminate their daily insulin doses. There were no significant side effects observed in the study.