Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Shot May Reverse Type 1 Diabetes

Shot May Reverse Type 1 Diabetes

BOSTON - Medical researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are currently testing if a long-used vaccine – a simple shot or series of shots over time -- could reverse Type 1 diabetes, News Center 5's Bianca de la Garza reported Sunday. Ben Rosenthal has lived with diabetes since his diagnosis at just 13 months. By the age of 5, he needed five to 10 shots of insulin a day to control his blood sugar."When the kids brought in birthday cake, I couldn't have it," he said.

Rosenthal never knew when a diabetic shock would set in. "You, like, go to sleep and wake up in the hospital. It's really scary."

He now uses an insulin pump, instead of shots, to control his diabetes. That switch has made managing his disease easier, but Dr. Denise Faustman wants something even better for her diabetic patients.

"Permanent disease reversal," she said.

Faustman said she thinks a vaccine called bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BGC for short, could reverse type one diabetes in humans. The vaccine has been around for 80 years, used safely to treat tuberculosis and bladder infections.

The BGC vaccine costs about $15 per dose. Faustman's research showed that the shot got rid of type one diabetes in mice.

"We got rid of bad white blood cells, and the pancreas regenerates so they self-healed," she said.

About a dozen diabetes sufferers have been coming to Mass. General to get the BCG vaccine for about 2 1/2 years.

The side effects are minor. Patients have reported some inflammation at the shot site and, occasionally, a slight fever.

"The question is, can we use this old-fashioned, cheap drug and find out the right dosing to decrease the bad white blood cells so the pancreas can kick in?" Faustman said.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, as many as 3 million Americans live with Type 1 diabetes. Forty children are newly diagnosed each day in the United States alone. Type 1 is less common than Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, which is largely caused by poor diet and a lack of exercise.

Faustman concedes that if her research is ultimately proven effective, there are some who stand to lose. She estimates that type 1 diabetes care in the U.S. alone is a $15-17 billion per year industry.

Rosenthal hopes for a possible breakthrough that he's been waiting for his whole life."

I would relax. I would just live my life live normally, [it would be] really peaceful for me. It would be amazing," he said.

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