Cash injection raises hopes of diabetes vaccine

Pursuit of a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes hit a major setback in 2011 when weak Phase III results prompted Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) to sever ties with the candidate. Others have continued working in the field though, and now a fresh injection of cash has brought renewed optimism.

The funding stems from an alliance between supermarket chain Tesco and charity Diabetes UK. Tesco is aiming to raise $15 million for Diabetes UK, which is channeling nearly half the funding into a Type 1 diabetes vaccine research project. While the figures are small in drug-development terms, Diabetes UK is optimistic the money can re-energize efforts to bring a vaccine to market.

Diabetes UK Director of Research Dr. Alasdair Rankin said in a release: "I am really hopeful that with the boost of the funding that has been made possible by our partnership with Tesco, within the next 20 years we will have a vaccine that can stop Type 1 diabetes developing." The timeframe is big enough for a vaccine to come through from the earliest stages of development and still meet the 20-year goal.

If an existing candidate is successful in the clinic, a vaccine could be on the market ahead of the charity's target. While J&J handed back its stake in the Type 1 diabetes vaccine GAD65, some clinical trials of the drug are ongoing. Other candidates include the tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin--which researchers are pushing after promising results in two patients--and a treatment in Phase Ib in the United Kingdom. Diabetes UK has already funded the research that led to the Phase Ib trial and now has a bigger pool of cash to allocate to such projects.  

- here's the Diabetes UK post
- check out Channel 4's take

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