Professor Colin Dayan and his team will work to set up, train and maintain a network of 15 Type 1 vaccine research teams across the UK, who will help recruit for and run clinical trials of the new therapies. They will also help train the doctors and researchers who will lead trials of new immune therapies in the future.
Background to research
It is clear that combinations of therapies that modify the immune system in Type 1 diabetes are likely to be more effective at treating and preventing the condition than single treatments alone. However, the development of successful combination therapies will require many clinical trials and many people (both adults and children) to take part in them.
Most of these trials will need people to take part within a few weeks after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, when they are still making some of their own insulin. This is often a very difficult time for people with Type 1 diabetes and their families, and doctors and nurses often have limited knowledge of the latest vaccine trials and find it hard to help people decide whether or not to take part. As a result, less than 16 percent of eligible people are currently taking part in Type 1 vaccine trials in the UK.
Professor Colin Dayan and his team will work to set up, train and maintain a network of 15 highly motivated Type 1 vaccine research teams at strategic locations across the UK. The doctors and nurses in each team will have fully up-to-date understanding of the latest immune therapies for Type 1 diabetes and of their potential risks and benefits.
This will mean that trials of new immune therapies can be introduced to people with Type 1 diabetes at an early stage by doctors and nurses they already know and trust. These staff will also have knowledge and first-hand experience of trials that will enable them to answer any questions people might have in detail. The teams will also run clinical trials in their local hospitals, making it possible for children and young people with newly-diagnosed Type 1 diabetes to take part at convenient times and without having to travel long distances.
The network of teams will ensure that clinical trials being run in centres across the UK will be carried out in the same way, so that results can be easily compared and combined. Finally, the Professor Dayan and his team will develop a training programme for the doctors and researchers who will lead trials of new Type 1 immune therapies in the future.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
This project will lead to a major increase in the ability of the UK to perform clinical trials of immune therapies for Type 1 diabetes. It will create centres of expertise local to at least 20 percent of the UK population, allowing many more children and young adults to take part in Type 1 vaccine research studies. It will also help to produce results from studies of more than six new immune therapies within a few years.
Within 10 years, it is expected that the first immune therapies will be introduced into clinics to help people with Type 1 diabetes preserve their own insulin production. This will make blood glucose control much easier, with less risk of hypos, improved overall glucose management in the long term and a reduced risk of diabetes complications. In the longer term, immune therapies for those at risk of Type 1 diabetes could help delay or even prevent the need for insulin therapy entirely.