8-Year Study Shows Vaccine Reverses Type 1 Diabetes
Imagine if a vaccine could put the blood sugar levels of Type 1 diabetes sufferers back to near normal levels and more importantly, keep them there! A new study shows a pair of vaccines could do it.
Massachusetts General Hospital has released results of an eight-year study of Type 1 diabetes sufferers and the effects of the tuberculosis vaccine on their blood sugar. Dr. Denise Faustman led the study which treated people who had had Type 1 diabetes from 10 to 20 years. WCVB reports that, according to Faustman, "If they get vaccinated twice, there's a delay. But then, after about 3.5 years, their blood sugars come down, not to the total normal range, but near normal range."
The BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine for tuberculosis is believed to help people produce TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor). People who have Type 1 diabetes need TNF. MedPage Today says TNF "kills the autoimmune T lymphocytes that destroy insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells -- those that cause type 1 diabetes -- while leaving healthy T cells unharmed."
Another study is now underway that hopes to get similar results and eventually lead to better lives for the 1.25 million Americans who have type 1 diabetes. Faustman says there's also hope that the vaccine could help those with Type 2 diabetes, though research studies have not been started.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last summer that showed more than 100 million adults in the U.S. had either diabetes or prediabetes, as of 2015. That year, the disease was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 11 percent of Iowans have diabetes, according to Diabetes.org, with 16,000 more diagnosed with the disease each year.
Yes, today's news is huge but not nearly as big as it could be. Let's hope future studies get the same results. If they do, thousands upon thousands of Americans could not only enjoy a better quality of life but a longer one as well.