Most diabetes sufferers could be cured within four years if a revolutionary treatment involving the BCG vaccine works, scientists said yesterday.
A human clinical trial with hopes of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes is to start at a leading American research hospital using BCG, universally given for many years in Britain to prevent tuberculosis.
If all goes well in later trials, the treatment could be approved for ordinary patients in four years.
Volunteer patients are now being enrolled for the trial at at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The aim is to find out whether promising results obtained by Dr Denise Faustman in mouse studies can be applied to human diabetes.
Her studies have shown that mice with a form of diabetes closely resembling type 1 diabetes in humans can be cured. “Hundreds of mice were involved in a number of experiments over a period of years,” said Dr Faustman.
“All were suffering from type 1 diabetes with only about two weeks to live.”
“They started improving within days after the first injection of BCG was given, and were eventually free of diabetes.”
The vaccine destroyed abnormal white blood cells obstructing the production of insulin, which is needed to prevent diabetes, she said.