Living with Type 1 diabetes means a life of constant checking, making sure insulin and glucose levels are always where they need to be.
A study by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital is looking at how a vaccine for a well-known disease could be the key to changing lives.
The study took around 50 patients and used an old vaccine for Tuberculosis.
They then followed them for 8 years and found there was a decrease in glucose levels without causing low sugars.
Dr. Paul Sack an Endocrinologist with MedStar Union Memorial Hospital explained what that means.
“These diabetics had diabetes for a long time,” Dr. Sack said. “Theoretically they made no insulin so they made no insulin which is the definition of Type 1 diabetes. It’s an autoimmune destruction of the cells that make insulin.”
The vaccine showed some very small levels of insulin increase, but not enough to make a difference.
“They did some other studies showing that it actually changes the way the body metabolizes glucose,” said Ball. “We use glucose for energy and it turns into something called ATP that provides us with the energy to do what we need to do. They found that it kind of Shunted or switched the way it metabolizes glucose from one pathway to another.”
The scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found that pathway was much more efficient at taking care of sugar.
“It’s fascinating that you can give an injection two times within a few weeks and this effect lasts for about years in terms of reducing the A1C by about half a point. A1C is like a marker of a three-month average of glucose.”
Dr. Sack said it’s important to note this is not a cure, and all of the people stayed on insulin throughout the study.
Dr. Sack said there is a good potential for this vaccine to do big things in the future.
“If you give it before any diabetes starts does it help,” The answer is probably not, but if you can give it around the time diabetes starts maybe there’s a chance this can prevent further loss.”