Making the T1D Vaccine a Reality

By Emily Howell

October 15, 2014

 Nanoparticle-based vaccine is designed to re-educate the immune system and halt the attack on the pancreas

Over the last three years, Selecta Bioscience, a clinical stage biotechnology company, has been developing nanoparticles called Synthetic Vaccine Particle (SVP) as an immunotherapy for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) with support from JDRF and it was announced this week that the project will continue to advance with support from a JDRF-Sanofi partnership to take its vaccine development to the next level. Using this funding, Selecta will test the ability of SVP to prevent T1D in diabetic mice. The vaccine is expected to act by re-programming the immune system to prevent the inflammatory response and thus SVP product might bring about a longer lasting and potentially safer solution than broad based immunosuppressive therapies.

“Vaccine research is one of the most appealing avenues to stop or discourage the beta-cell-specific auto-immunity in T1D and we realize that continuing our partnership with Selecta could advance our efforts, coupled with the fact that Sanofi will now bring additional strengths to this project,” said Richard Insel, M.D. Chief Scientific Officer of JDRF. The concept of a T1D vaccine is similar to that of allergy shots. Repeated exposure to the immune system triggers can be used to desensitize the immune system to particular stimuli. In the case of T1D this includes parts of the beta cell and insulin itself.

While the first phase of the project involved the production and analytical characterization of the specific tolerogenic nanoparticles, the next phase of the project will involve testing the ability of the tolerogenic nanoparticles to prevent T1D in a mouse model. It is anticipated that in this project will show that tolerogenic nanoparticles can reprogram autoreactive T-cells to be tolerant to insulin and thereby prevent the destruction of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells in mice. Selecta has a track record of developing therapies for multiple populations, including: malaria, cancer and a vaccine for smoking cessation. Selecta was approached by JDRF to consider channeling their understanding of antigen technologies and vaccine therapies toward T1D. Through the model partnership of a biotech and a healthcare company, JDRF hopes to bring a safer effective nanoparticle technology vaccine to the people at risk of developing or who have T1D.

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