Forsøk har vist at det er mulig å kurere diabetes type 1. Forskere ved Stanford har utviklet vaksiner som hemmer de hvite blodcellene som dreper betacellene. Disse cellene  produserer insulin som kroppen må ha for å omgjøre kalorier til energi.

Diabetes type 1 er en autoimmun sykdom, dvs. det er kroppens eget immunsystem som angriper egen kropp i den tro at betacellene er en inntrengere. Nå har forskerne klart å utvikle en vaksine som kun hemmer en bestemt type hvite blodceller. Resten av immunsystemet forblir intakt.

A study in 80 patients, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed a vaccine could retrain their immune system.

Experts described the results as a «significant step».

Normally a vaccine teaches the immune system to attack bacteria or viruses that cause disease, such as the polio virus.

Researchers at the Stanford University Medical Centre used a vaccine with the opposite effect – to make the immune system cease its assault.

In patients with type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas. This means the body is unable to produce enough insulin and regular injections of the hormone are needed throughout life.

It is a different disease to type 2 diabetes, which can be caused by an unhealthy diet.

The vaccine was targeted to the specific white blood cells which attack beta cells. After patients were given weekly injections for three months, the levels of those white blood cells fell.