Mass General Study Finds Potential Mechanism for BCG Vaccine Reversal of Type 1 Diabetes; Data Presented at ADA Meeting Indicates Increase in Expression of Genes Restoring Function of Beneficial Treg Cells

Interim results from an FDA-approved clinical trial testing the generic vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes are being presented at the 77th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (June 9-13, San Diego). The data demonstrate a potential new mechanism by which the BCG vaccine may restore the proper immune response to the insulin-secreting islet cells of the pancreas. Presented by Denise Faustman (photo), MD, PhD, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory and principal investigator of the trial, the findings suggest that BCG may induce a permanent increase in the expression of genes that restore the beneficial regulatory T cells (Tregs) that prevent the immune system from attacking the body's own tissue. The results are being presented on Saturday, June 10. "Many groups are looking at the ability of BCG vaccination to reverse autoimmunity," says Dr. Faustman, who is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "We and other global efforts have known for some time that restoring beneficial Treg cells might halt the abnormal self-reactivity in type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, but therapies to restore this immune balance have not achieved long-lasting results.
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