Can Tuberculosis Vaccine Help People with Diabetes?

Researchers are beginning to suspect a connection

For over 100 years, the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has been effective in silencing a killer-tuberculosis. Now, researchers believe it may be able to help people living with Type 1 diabetes as well.

People with type 1 diabetes who took part in a small eight-year study and received injections of the BCG vaccine saw their blood sugar drop to near-normal levels for at least five years.

In 1908, BCG was first utilized in the treatment of tuberculosis, and has grown in popularity to the point that the vaccine is now administered to over 100 million children worldwide annually. According to Healthline, the vaccine is also a popular treatment for bladder cancer and leprosy.

While these latest diabetes-related findings are preliminary, it would be foolish to dismiss their significance.

“People generally think that if you want to decrease blood sugar levels, you need to ingest insulin,” said Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the MGH Immunobiology Laboratory. “We developed another way to lower blood sugar that’s very safe, using a 100-year-old vaccine. This fills the gap between administering insulin to control blood sugar and restoring blood sugar to a normal range without patients becoming hypoglycemic, which can kill you.”

A phase II clinical trial approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently under way to test the BCG vaccine on a larger group of patients with type 1 diabetes.

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