Although there has been a considerable amount of research describing the link between type 1 diabetes and enterovirus, which is comprised of more than 100 types including the virus responsible for polio, it was not until recently that researchers from two independent studies determined the specific type of enterovirus that can attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and lead to type 1 diabetes.
Enteroviruses can infect anyone; however, they are more common among infants, children and teenagers because of their lack of immunity. One of the two studies that identified the specific type of enterovirus responsible for causing type 1 diabetes involved children at genetic risk from birth until age 15 or diagnosis of the disease. This study was known as the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) study. The other study, known as the VirDiab study, involved children with newly diagnosed diabetes. Both studies identified that the group B coxsackie viruses were associated with the risk of developing type 1 diabetes; whereas no association with the other 35 types was observed. The group B coxsackie viruses include six enteroviruses.
Researchers said that a vaccine against the virus, similar to a polio vaccine, might be an option eventually in preventing or delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes.
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