Diabetes researchers have high hopes that a tuberculosis vaccine is also efficient in curing type-1 diabetes. The vaccine, dating back a century, has already received FDA approval to move to mid-stage trials and test it in 150 adults suffering from advanced diabetes.
Lead researcher of the study Dr. Denise Faustman, head of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory in Boston announced the approval for the bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association on Sunday.
Type-1 diabetes affects roughly 5 percent of all diabetes patients, according to the statistics offered by American Diabetes Association. That means that almost three million people struggle with a deficit immune system which wrongfully destroys the insulin-producing beta cells.
In the first preliminary trial, BCG injections that were administered to patients every four weeks proved to temporarily destroy diabetes-causing cells. Insulin secretion was also reversed in patients, also temporarily and in small quantities.
Dr. Faustman and her colleagues are embarking on a five-year controlled trial starting this summer, when patients aged 18 to 60 are invited to enter the study. Participants will receive two injections, four weeks apart – some of BCG and other placebo – followed by annual injections and monitoring over the next four years.
As the preliminary trial was the foundation for this second trial, the success of the 4-year trial will offer evidence for an even larger study in a greater number of patients. The preliminary experiment only demonstrated a statistically significant response to BCG, but it was only temporary.
Faustman’s goal is to establish a long-lasting positive response in diabetes patients. She explained the 4-year medical adventure is not a prevention trial; the purpose if finding the regimen that will prove efficient in treating an advanced disease.
Initially, the BCG vaccine was used as medication against tuberculosis, a treatment which became available for patients in 1921. In recent years, the same vaccine proved efficient in the treatment of bladder cancer.
For over 90 years, all the safety and clinical data has showed the drug to have an impeccable record. Even so, there are some diabetes specialists still skeptical about its ability of curing diabetes.
Robert Sobel, an assistant professor of endocrinology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, believes that the medical community would have better results if they would look for prevention methods rather than hoping to find the cure.
The biggest challenge the teams working with type-1 diabetes are facing right now if finding a good treatment that would prove successful not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term. Faustman’s trial has already secured more than $19 million for the study, out of the $25 million total.
Image Source: The Muslim Times