Type 1 Diabetes may be halted by TB vaccine used for 90 years
Denise Faustman with Shohta Kodama (L) and Takuma Hayashi
A tuberculosis vaccine in use for 90 years may help reverse Type 1 diabetes and eliminate the lifelong need for insulin injections, say Harvard University researchers raising money to conduct large, human studies.
The vaccine, called bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, stimulated production of a protein that killed the insulin-attacking cells, according to the findings of an early-stage study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.
Insulin injections help control Type 1 diabetes for the 3 million Americans with the disease, though there is no cure for the condition usually diagnosed in childhood. Results of the trial showed that two of the three patients given BCG had signs of renewed insulin production. The researchers now plan a larger study that could yield results in three to five years.
“We think this can be taken all the way to the market, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Denise Faustman…who led the study.
The vaccine, a weakened form of the tuberculosis bacteria, stimulates production of TNF, a cell-signaling protein that plays a role in cell death. With more TNF, the body can attack those harmful immune cells while leaving the rest of the body’s defenses intact. The vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for tuberculosis, though it isn’t generally recommended for use in the United States. The vaccine also is approved to fight bladder cancer.
Cripes, a hat trick of good results from a single vaccine aiding production of the TNF protein. I hope they get large-scale studies in gear as soon as they can. The benefit for those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes would be qualitative.
You can contact Dr. Faustman’s lab here. They are seeking volunteers for clinical trials.