Type 1 diabetes is a disease caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is often diagnosed in childhood and requires life-long treatment with daily insulin injections. It is associated with an increased risk for long-term complications which decrease the quality of life and average life-expectancy.
Currently around 15 million people in the world are affected by this disease, and the number of new cases is rapidly increasing. This rapid increase over the last decades indicates that environmental factors must play an important role in the disease process. Viral infections have been among one of the suspected factors, since many viruses cause diabetes in animals by damaging the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Some of them have also been linked to human type 1 diabetes raising the possibility of developing vaccines against these viruses to prevent some of the new cases of type 1 diabetes.
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