Over the past decade, Denise Faustman, the Director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and her team have been researching a new way of curing type 1 diabetes involving the 90-year-old vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). Altough BCG was originally used to combat tuberculosis, the team at the MGH found out that BCG increased levels of TNF (a signaling protein involved in the body’s immune responses), which could eliminate defective T cells “that mistakenly attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas”. The Phase 1 trials on diabetics showed that the vaccine BCG decreased the number of defective T cells, that the vaccine did not cause any major complications in the diabetics and that “in people living with diabetes for an average of 15 years, there was a transient increase in restoration of pancreatic insulin secretion after BCG vaccination.”
This prospective cure shows a lot of promise, although the Phase 2 trials will determine the true long-term potential of this method in humans; in the Phase 1 trial only a “transient increase” in insulin production was noticed in the diabetics. Furthermore, for the Phase 2 trial to take place the Faustman Lab requires approximately $6.8 million more in funding: you can donate by going to their website, where you can also find out more about their ground-breaking work.