Do you know how many people suffer from diabetes type 1 in USA alone? The number is striking: 1.25 million people. A vaccine used over 100 years ago for tuberculosis (bacillus Calmette-Guerin ) has shown promise in reversing this disease. This vaccine is currently used for treating bladder cancer and it is generally thought to be safe.
There was an announcement at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association saying that the FDA will test the vaccine on a group of 150 people who suffer from diabetes type 1. More specifically these people were in an advanced stage of the disease.
People suffering from type 1 diabetes have a lack of insulin in their bodies. This happens due to the immune system that destroys the cells that create insulin. As a result T cells are produced. These T cells create problems in the pancreatic islets where the insulin is normally produced. The vaccine mentioned before seems to eliminate these cells.
Patients with diabetes injected with the vaccine saw an increase in the levels of a substance called tumor necrosis factor. The increased level of TNF in the system destroys the T cells that are hindering the production of insulin.
In a previous trial, patients were injected with the tuberculosis vaccine twice within a four-week time frame. The results showed that the dangerous T cells were gone, and some people even began to secrete insulin on their own.
Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory in Boston, is very excited about the results the BCG vaccine has been showing.
“In the phase I (preliminary) trial we demonstrated a statistically significant response to BCG, but our goal in (this trial) is to create a lasting therapeutic response. We will be working again with people who have had type 1 diabetes for many years. This is not a prevention trial; instead, we are trying to create a regimen that will treat even advanced disease” explained Dr. Denise.
A new trial is expected to be made on people at the age between 18 and 60. These people will be injected with the vaccine in a period of 4 weeks and then once a year for a 4-year time span.
The Diabetes Care journal has published the results of a past study which analyzed the effects of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) on kids with diabetes at the age between 5 and 18. According to the results the BCG vaccine doesn’t keep the beta-cell function or raise the remission rate in kids.