Long-term follow-up of participants in clinical trials of a generic vaccine to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes finds significant clinical benefits, including restoration of near-normal blood sugar levels. Three years after receiving two administrations of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine four weeks apart, all members of a group of adults with longstanding type 1 diabetes showed an improvement in HbA1c to near normal levels – improvement that persisted for the following five years. The study from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team – published in npj Vaccines – also reports that the effects of BCG vaccine on blood sugar control appear to depend on a totally novel metabolic mechanism that increases cellular consumption of glucose.
“This is clinical validation of the potential to stably lower blood sugars to near normal levels with a safe vaccine, even in patients with longstanding disease,” says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Immunobiology Laboratory, principal investigator of BCG clinical trials at MGH and senior author of the npj Vaccines report. “In addition to the clinical outcomes, we now have a clear understanding of the mechanisms through which limited BCG vaccine doses can make permanent, beneficial changes to the immune system and lower blood sugars in type 1 diabetes.”