Is it possible that we will one day–in the near future, even–have a diabetes vaccine that will reverse type 1 diabetes? Possible yes, and increasingly likely.
Can a vaccine for type 2 be far behind?
We have good news for the nation’s 1.25 million type 1 sufferers:
Help is on the way. At the 77th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital announced the development of a vaccine that could permanently reverse type 1 diabetes.
The announcement came after a five-year clinical trial looking into the application of BCG, a long-time tuberculosis vaccine known as Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, and how it might be used to prevent diabetes, as well. Interim reports from the trial apparently showed that BCG vaccine affects white cells at the genetic level, regulating which genes are expressed and which are not. According to the researchers, the body stops producing those abnormal white blood cells that cause the autoimmune disease. This would suggest that the vaccine could restore genes to normality, working at a very basic DNA level to normalize expression of genes related to an abnormal immune response.
In other words, it could permanently reverse type 1 diabetes.
BCG has been used extensively in China, Africa and South American as a vaccination against tuberculosis. In fact, in the last year alone, 100 million doses were given to newly born infants. It hadn’t been used much in the U.S. until now because TB is still relatively uncommon.
How does it work on type 1?
According to researchers in the study, type 1 diabetics cannot produce insulin because their immune systems are destroying those cells that would otherwise produce insulin. Instead, the body creates T cells which can have negative consequences in 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.
The clinical trials are still incomplete, sources say. Going forward, researchers will attempt to replicate results from the first trials and determine optimal dosages for quick results. If they are successful in coming up with an inexpensive vaccine that’s already generic, they could save the health care system billions of dollars and greatly improve the qualify of life of millions of sufferers of type one diabetes.
For more information on this announcement, check out this link: Vaccine Announcement