BCG Vaccine- A Curative Answer to Type 1 Diabetes

A brief overview

When we say Diabetes, we are scared; and to think there is a type 1 and 2 is even scarier. Thus, it is helpful to gather some knowledge about both these types so that you do not scare yourself or the people surrounding you; instead, you can opt for proper treatment. The Type 1 Diabetes is a fault in the immune system of a our body. The immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells as foreign thus trying to destroy them. This is also known as the autoimmune disease in the medical fraternity. Now, it is easy for even a layman to understand that the body becomes weak with a weak immune system.

So, to mitigate the risk, a number of medicines can be administered to the patients. However, with a recent clinical test result that was presented in the seventy-fifth Scientific Sessions organized by American Diabetes Association, it was revealed that the BCG vaccine or the bacillus Calmette-Guerin has the potency to overturn the advanced Type 1 diabetes and could also help in restoring the erstwhile immune response to the beta cells that produce insulin. This striking result was presented by Dr. Denise Faustman, Ph.D. Director of Massachusetts General Hospital Immuno-biology laboratory. He is the principal investigator in this trial which is an FDA approved one.

About the vaccine

The BCG vaccine happens to be an existing one based on a risk-free strain of bacteria associated with the cause of tuberculosis. It also has approval for treating bladder cancer from the FDA. The test results reveal that the vaccine BCG could bring on a long lasting gene expression which is capable of restoring the restictive T cells or Tregs aiding in the prevention of immune system attack that is the main characteristic of Type 1 diabetes. The head investigator is also of opinion that the BCG vaccine is quite interesting as it considers different fields of immunology that the medical fraternity has considered for a very long time as in a decade. The areas also include hygiene hypothesis and Tregs.

The researches

When the BCG vaccine is repeated, it can turn on the marked Treg genes permanently thus benefitting the immune response of the host. This response summarizes the co-evolution of humans and mycobacterium – which is an association that does not exist anymore and has been stopped with the contemporary living and eating habits. A large number of researchers have been working on the merit of Tregs, but the existing results and the resultant therapies have failed to attain long-term goals. With the BCG vaccine and its capacity to reinstate Tregs, a transparent picture can be seen. It reveals how a vaccine functions to reorganize immune system inside Type 1 diabetes.

Faustman’s team is the first to record the result of BCG immunization for Type 1 diabetes and in a consequent phase 1 trial verified the successful results or findings of the test for BCG vaccination. The long-term data for this study has also been established which will be published at the end of this year. Trials on the usefulness of repeat vaccine are also being done currently to corroborate the findings of the earlier study.

Basically, the findings of the study can be summarized as:

  • Anti-insulin T cells started to die
  • New regulatory T cells which are good increased
  • There were indications of new though temporary insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells development
  • The vaccine is safe

In spite of all these studies, there are skepticism requiring more evidence. Steven Wittlin, MD, and the Professor of Medicine as well as the Director of Diabetes Service at the University of Rochester. He stated that this kind of study has been conducted previously as well but most of them have failed to produce long-term and large-scale results even after showing a lot of promise initially. In fact, the director noted that the previous efforts have failed to bring the expected result. However, Faustman’s team is excited as they feel that detailed study could bring results.

To conclude

She is also of the opinion that if it works for people with Type 1 diabetes, it will work for patients with some other autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Whatever, the result is, the study shows hope that type 1 diabetes can be cured with BCG vaccine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *