It is not impossible, and it would not be the first time it was thought that there might be a simple injection to stop the onset of Type 1 diabetes in those known to be at risk. Research done over a decade ago involved the vaccination for tuberculosis called bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. The world became excited that a diabetes vaccine might become available. The early signs were hopeful, but in 1999 the small study did not show benefit. The concept has never been abandoned however and today those researchers still believe there may be a role for this vaccination in prevention of type 1 diabetes.
Elsewhere in the world, a team in Finland has been studying viruses that could cause diabetes. Team members have identified 5 potential viruses after studying hundreds of them. Their next step will be to develop a vaccination against these viruses, but there is one specific virus that might be the most important to treat to get the best possible results. They are now seeking future funding to continue this important work.
Lastly, in the United States at Stanford University a vaccine targeting the immune response associated with diabetes is being studied. This vaccine is targeting the specific immune response to diabetes, which seems to be different than when the body is at risk of attack from viruses such as polio or tuberculosis. This vaccination potentially can shut off an immune response in the body which would have lead to type 1 diabetes.
So, will there be a needle to prevent Type 1 diabetes? Time will tell. Research in this area is small but promising, with at least three different approaches being studied for further understanding of how they might come to ‘cure’ type 1 diabetes.