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Study: 90-year-old vaccine may block diabetes

By Bloomberg News

This article was published August 9, 2012 at 8:04 a.m.

— A tuberculosis vaccine in use for 90 years may help reverse Type 1 diabetes and eliminate the life-long need for insulin injections, say Harvard University researchers raising money to conduct large, human studies.

Patients with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin daily to control their blood sugar because their bodies don’t produce the hormone, the result of an errant immune system that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The vaccine, called bacillus Calmette-Guirin, or BCG, stimulated production of a protein that killed the insulin-attacking cells, according to the findings of an early-stage study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

Insulin injections help control Type 1 diabetes for the 3 million Americans with the disease, though there is no cure for the condition usually diagnosed in childhood. Results of the trial showed that two of the three patients given BCG had signs of renewed insulin production. The researchers now plan a larger study that could yield results in three to five years.

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