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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2004 April;95(2):105-14

language: English

Prophylaxis of autoimmune diabetes by antigen based immune modulation: are we there yet?

Bot A., Von Herrath M.


Autoimmune type 1 diabetes (early onset/ juvenile and slow onset T1D) is a disease mediated by autoreactive T cells accompanied by autoantibodies against islet associated antigens. The genetic predisposition, the association with certain HLA alleles (DR4 and DQ8) as well as the possibility to identify high-risk subjects by autoantibody measurement, fueled hope in regards to potential prophylaxis by vaccination. Numerous preclinical studies along with accumulating evidence for the role of certain autoantigens and putative dominant epitopes created the premises of clinical trials addressing this objective. However, the disappointing outcomes of many of such trials made it clear that significant challenges to clinical application of this concept must be addressed: we do not know at this point, how to choose the most appropriate set of autoantigens, how to optimally use them as a vaccine, whether to define and enroll only a subset of recipients, how to monitor their T cell responses to the vaccine and lastly, which the end-points of clinical T1D trials from an immunologic or metabolic perspective should be? Herein, we will approach some of the opportunities and obstacles associated with this intriguing strategy to fight autoimmune diabetes based on promising novel insight gained form studies with animal models.

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