Only in the United States, 1.25 million people suffer from type 1 diabetes. A vaccine used over 100 years ago for tuberculosis (bacillus Calmette-Guerin) showed promise in reversing this disease. The vaccine is now commonly used for treating bladder cancer and it’s also considered to be safe.
An announcement was made at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, which said that the FDA is going to test the vaccine on 150 people who are in an advanced stage of type 1 diabetes.
The body of one person with type 1 diabetes doesn’t produce insulin as a result of the immune system which is destroying the cells that create insulin. T cells are produced, and they create problems in the pancreatic islets, where the insulin is produced. The vaccine works by eliminating those T cells.
Those patients with diabetes who have been injected with the vaccine saw an increase in the levels of the substance called tumor necrosis factor. The increased level of the TNF in the system destroys the T cells which are hindering the production of insulin.
In the previous trial, patients were injected with the tuberculosis vaccine two times within a 4-week time frame. The results showed that the very dangerous T cells were gone, and some patients even began to secrete insulin on their own.
Dr. Denise Faustman, the director of the Massachusetts General Hospital of Immunobiology Laboratory in Boston, is very excited about the results that the BCG vaccine has been showing.
“In phase 1 (preliminary) trial we demonstrated a statistically significant response to the BCG, but our goal in (this trial) is to create a lasting therapeutic response. We will be working again with persons who have had type 1 diabetes for many years. This is not a prevention trial; instead, we are trying to create a regimen that is going to treat even advanced disease” explained Dr. Faustman.
There is a new trial coming is going to will use the same format as the previous one, on individuals at the age between 18 and 60 years. The subjects are going to be injected with the vaccine two times in a period of 4 weeks, and then once a year for a four-year time span.
The Diabetes Care journal published the results of the past study that analyzed the effects of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) on children with diabetes at the age between 5 and 18 years. The results showed that the BCG vaccine doesn’t keep the beta-cell function or raise the remission rate in children.