Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin – rending the body unable to respond correctly to glucose. While the cause isn’t entirely clear, a phase 2 trial has just been approved for use of a vaccine against the type 1 variety.
Treatment can include a battle to remove the defective immune T-cells, but the attack isn’t very selective and can also damage healthy ones too. Research has uncovered that a protein, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), can selectively kill defective cells at higher concentrations. Oddly enough, the BCG vaccine used against tuberculosis somehow raises levels of TNF and has since been tested safely in a phase 1 trial on type 1 patients in 2012. BCG seems like it may have an array of therapeutic effects in autoimmune conditions, but more research needs to be done on the subject.
“Although the drug was given in relatively small doses, we saw targeted death of the ‘bad’ T cells that attack the insulin-secreting islets, an early sign that BCG has the potential to stop the autoimmune attack and successfully reverse disease,”
The phase 2 trial should establish effective dosage regimen against the condition and observe whether the vaccine can induce a remission of diabetes.
Read more at Endocrine Web