Only in the USA, 1.25 million people suffer from type one diabetes. On the bright side, a vaccine used more than 100 years ago for tuberculosis (bacillus Calmette-Guerin) has turned out to be promising when it comes to reversing this disease. Nowadays, medical experts and doctors use this vaccine for treating bladder cancer, meaning that this vaccine is safe.
At the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association it was announced that the Food and Drugs Administration will test the vaccine on 150 people who are in an advanced stage of type one diabetes.
An individual that suffers from type one diabetes faces the problem of their body not producing insulin due to the immune system destroying the cells that create insulin. The body produces T cells, which cause problems in the pancreatic islets, where insulin is being produced. The vaccine actually eliminates these T cells.
People who suffer from diabetes and who have been injected with the vaccine noticed an increase in the levels of a substance called tumor necrosis factor. The increased level of TNF in the system annihilates the T cells which obstruct the process of 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 will follow that will use the same format as this one, on people at the age between 18 and 60. The patients who will participate in this trial will be injected with the vaccine twice in a period of one month, and then once a year for a four-year time span.
In the Diabetes Care journal it has been published that according to a previous study’s results, the effects of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) on children with diabetes at the age between 5 and 18 are not as efficient, and the BCG vaccine does not keep the beta-cell function or increase the remission rate.