Humans had lightning forever before they discovered it could be converted into useful electricity. The lightning was in front of them the whole time, but they didn't know how to utilize it. In fact, most inventions are composed of various materials and different objects and discoveries that have already been made. These old materials can be combined into something extraordinary, or can be thought of and used in a new and challenging way. MD, PhD Denise Faustman and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used an 80-year old tuberculosis vaccine in a study that has displayed promising results that lead us a step closer toward finding a cure for diabetes.
Dr. Denise Faustman and her colleagues used the generic tuberculosis vaccine, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), in a small study where the BCG vaccine showed that it was able to lead to the restoration of cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body destroys its own cells rather than invaders. Diabetes is caused when the body destroys islet cells in the pancreas...the cells that produce insulin. In the study, the T cells that destroy the islet cells were eliminated, while evidence showed that insulin was also reproduced again.
The theory in the study is that if all the T-Cells can be destroyed, the islet cells will be restored. Researchers used to think that once a patient had diabetes, all of their islet cells were destroyed, but this study has shown that islet cells can be preserved. The study began when Faustman used the BCG vaccine to try and raise the production of the compound tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in lab mice. TNF is one way that T-cells can be destroyed. The findings were successful when the T-Cells decreased and insulin was produced. The study was then performed on three humans, and two of them had a decrease in the amount of T-cells in their body and a rise in insulin production.
Although this study has shown promising results in small studies, many theories do not show failure until tested on larger scales, as the BCG vaccine will soon be. Great controversy has arisen based on this study's possible false hope. This study has opened many doors, and allowed scientists and researchers to think differently when searching for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Just like a bolt of lightning, this study has the possibility to turn something that seems so ordinary, into something amazing.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!