Type 1 Diabetes… Cured?

August 9, 2012

It’s not often that you hear good news about vaccines, but Harvard University researchers are about to start human trials on a new use for an old vaccine… curing Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder. The body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells (insulin regulates sugar/carbs and fat) and lifelong treatments require the daily injection of insulin—often starting in childhood.

Well, it appear that a TB vaccine, bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), kills the body’s insulin attacking cells, which in a small study allowed some patients to start producing their own insulin again!

My first thought: is this bad for the immune system? It doesn’t appear so—the BCG vaccine actually stimulates the immune system to “clean house”, as it were, and target the malfunctioning cells, allowing the body to function properly. The early trial only required two doses of the vaccine, but long term success has yet to be measured.

Here’s the REALLY exciting part: the BCG vaccine is cheap. It’s been around forever, and it’s long since passed into generic drug territory. So how is this trial being funded? (The head researcher has stated—if you click through to the original article—that Big Pharma is NOT interested in a drug that is so cheap and “cures” a disease). It’s being funded privately!

I’m sure it helps that Harvard’s name is on the study, and that they have a large pool of big donors to draw from, but they’re already about halfway to their goal for human trials. We’re in an age of crowd-funding, and reaching out to people is now easier than ever, so hopefully we’ll see more drugs like this come to market to help people for little to no cost.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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