An early stage study suggests an experimental vaccine may be able to tame bits of the immune system that go haywire in people with type 1 diabetes, offering hope for a new way to delay or prevent the autoimmune disease, researchers said.

For more than four decades, scientists have tried different ways of manipulating the immune system to stop the destruction of insulin-producing cells that is responsible for type 1 diabetes. The disease affects as many as 3 million Americans.

Some prior attempts suppressed desirable parts of the immune system, leaving individuals vulnerable to infections and cancer. Several teams are now attempting more targeted approaches in an effort to delay or reverse type 1 diabetes.

Those with this form of diabetes currently must monitor their blood sugar and take insulin several times a day, but the treatment is risky - it can cause coma or death at any time and can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, blindness and kidney failure over time.



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