A vaccine for tuberculosis that has been in use for over 90 years might have another use. The vaccine might reverse Type 1 diabetes and stop the need for insulin injections for life, said researchers from Harvard University, who are currently raising money in order to conduct human studies.
Sufferers of Type 1 diabetes are required to inject insulin on a daily basis to control the level of blood sugar in their bodies. Their bodies cannot produce the hormone because of an immune system that destroys its insulin producing cells inside the pancreas.
The vaccine for tuberculosis, known as bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), stimulated the production of a particular protein that then killed the cells that attacked the insulin, according to research findings in a recent study.
The injections of insulin help to control diabetes for more than 3 million people in the U.S. who suffer from the disease. There is not a cure for the condition that usually is diagnosed during childhood. Trial results showed that two out of the three patients who were given BCG showed signs of insulin production. A new larger study is now planned that could have results within three to five years.
The vaccine is a weakened form of tuberculosis bacteria and stimulates the production of TNF a protein that signals cells that then play a role in the death of cells. With additional TNF, the body is able to attack the harmful immune cells and leave the rest of the defenses in the body intact.