Preliminary experiments in a handful of people suggest that it might be possible to reverse Type 1 diabetes using an inexpensive vaccine to stop the immune system from attacking cells in the pancreas.
Research in mice had already shown that the tuberculosis vaccine called BCG prevents T cells from destroying insulin-secreting cells, allowing the pancreas to regenerate and begin producing insulin again, curing the disease. Now tests with very low doses of the vaccine in humans show transient increases in insulin production, researchers report Sunday at a San Diego meeting of the American Diabetes Association.
The Massachusetts General Hospital team is now gearing up to use higher doses of the vaccine in larger numbers of people in an effort to increase and prolong the response.
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