More than 1.25 million people suffer from type 1 diabetes in the US. The latest researches shows that a vaccine for tuberculosis (bacillus Calmette-Guerin), which is already used for more than 100 years, can reversing the diabetes. This vaccine is considered as safe and it is also used for treating bladder cancer.
The 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association announcement made yesterday at said that the FDA will test the vaccine on 150 people who are in an advanced stage of type one diabetes.
The body of a person with type 1 diabetes does not produce insulin due to the immune system destroying the cells that create insulin. T cells are produced, and these cells create problems in the pancreatic islets, where insulin is produced. The vaccine works by eliminating these T 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.
Moreover, patients were also injected with this vaccine in a previous trial, and the results proved that the T cells are destroyed. Certain people even began secreting insulin by themselves.
Dr. Denise Faustman, who is a director of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is very happy with the results.
She adds that in the preliminary trial there have been a statistically important response to this vaccine. However, the goal is to make a long-lasting medicinal response and she adds that they will continue their work with people who have type 1 diabetes. She noted that they are trying to make a system that will be used as a treatment for more advanced diseases.
There is a new trial, which will last five years and which is to start this summer. The candidates are between the ages of 18 and 60. The trial is going to be conducted in the same way as the previous one, the patients will be injected two times in a period of four weeks. Patients will be injected once a year in the following four years.
Not all diabetes experts are confident that this treatment will work. Robert Sobel, an assistant professor of endocrinology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, explains why he is skeptical.
“I think this would have a huge impact on the millions plus type I diabetes patients in this country. We would love to do something to repopulate or preserve their beta cell mass. We have watched it dwindle and have not been able to do something (in time).”
If this vaccine will become a viable treatment option for type 1 diabetes or not time will tell.