According to statistics, even 1.25 million people in America suffer from type 1 diabetes. Luckily, a vaccine used over 100 years ago for tuberculosis has shown benefits for treating diabetes. It is also used in the treatment of bladder cancer and it is considered as safe. According to the announcement made at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, FDA will test the vaccine on 150 people who are in an advanced stage of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes appears when the immune system is destroying the cells that create insulin, which is why diabetics don’t produce enough insulin. Instead, T cells are produced which lead to health issues in the pancreatic islets where insulin is produced. Luckily, this vaccine has the ability to destroy these T cells.
Diabetics noticed an increase in the levels of a substance called tumor necrosis factor due to the injection of this vaccine. Moreover, the increased level of TNF in the system destroys the T cells that are hindering the production of insulin.
According to the results from the previous study, where the patients were injected with the tuberculosis vaccine twice within a four-week frame, the dangerous T cells disappeared and some people started producing insulin on their own.
The director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory in Boston, Dr. Denise Faustman, is extremely 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.
Another study will be soon conducted on people at the age between 18 and 60 and they will be injected with the same vaccine, only twice in the period of 4 weeks, as well as once a year for a 4-year time span.
The results from the previous study were published in the Diabetes Care journal and they analyzed the effects of this vaccine on kids with diabetes at the age between 5 and 18. It was discovered that the BCG vaccine doesn’t have the ability to keep the beta-cell function or raise the remission rate in children.