Enterovirus associated with type 1 diabetes identified — gives hope
24 October 2013
For the first time, researchers have identified the types of
enterovirus associated with type 1 diabetes. Two collaborating
teams have published the findings of their separate studies in the
One study is based on children taking part in the Finnish Type 1
Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study, which is a birth
cohort study observing children at genetic risk for type 1 diabetes
from birth up to clinical diabetes or 15 years of age.
The other study, called VirDiab, included children with newly
diagnosed diabetes from five European countries. The results from
these studies clearly show that members of the group B
coxsackieviruses are associated with the risk of type 1 diabetes
while the 35 other enterovirus types tested did not show such a
These findings are in line with other recent reports suggesting
that group B coxsackieviruses can spread to the pancreas and damage
the insulin-producing cells.
Progress has been made recently in evaluating the possible role
of enteroviruses, which have been connected with human type 1
diabetes in a variety of studies. These viruses are common in
children, and more than 100 different enterovirus types have been
identified in humans.
A subset of these enteroviruses can cause serious illnesses such
as: myocarditis, meningitis, the hand-food-and-mouth-disease as well
as paralytic diseases such as polio. Although the association
between type 1 diabetes and enteroviruses has been observed in
various studies, until now it was not known which enterovirus types
are most responsible for this effect.
This new discovery, funded by multiple groups, opens up novel
possibilities for future research aimed at developing vaccines
against these viruses to prevent type 1 diabetes. Since the group B
coxsackieviruses includes only six enterovirus types it may be
possible to include all of them in the same vaccine. Effective
vaccines have been available for a long time against another
enterovirus group, called polioviruses, which includes three
There is a clear need for a diabetes vaccine since no preventive
treatments are currently available for type 1 diabetes. Based on the
recent findings, it is estimated that such a vaccine could have the
potential for preventing a significant proportion of new cases with
type 1 diabetes.
More research is needed, however, to confirm the causal
relationship between group B coxsackieviruses and type 1 diabetes
and to find out the underlying mechanisms of how these viruses can
initiate the type 1 diabetes disease process.
The DIPP study
The Finnish Type 1
Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study follows children
with increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes from birth and
observes them continuously until they develop type 1 diabetes or
reach the age of 15 years.
Altogether 12,000 children have been in the follow-up, close to
300 of them have got type 1 diabetes and many more have developed a
subclinical autoimmune process.
The DIPP study is running in in Finland (join effort of the
Universities of Oulu, Tampere and Turku) and is funded by multiple
academic resources such as JDRF, Academy of Finland and European
The VirDiab study
VirDiab study has created a biobank of samples collected from
patients with n ewly diagnosed type 1 diabetesand healthy children
in five European countries. It has been funded by the European