Now I don’t know about you, but I’m always a little sceptical when people talk about cures for diabetes – there seem to be a lot of people having breakthroughs, but not a lot happening beyond the breakthroughs. Obviously this is because there are so many steps to developing new medication, and if anything is going to be touted as the cure for diabetes, it actually has to be that (and be 100% safe!)
That said, I find this very interesting: a recent study has shown that an old drug for TB might be able to reverse long-term Type 1 diabetes. Isn’t that incredible?! To think, a drug that we already have could help in the search for a cure. Here’s what the article, from the Bloomberg News, had to say:
“An 80-year-old drug used to protect people against tuberculosis may help reverse Type 1 diabetes, the most severe form of the disease, in patients who have had it for years, an early study in six patients found. The medicine killed abnormal white blood cells that interfere with insulin production in the pancreas, according to the study presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Diego.
Patients getting two small doses four weeks apart showed signs of restored insulin production for about a week, Denise Faustman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immunobiology Laboratory, said in a telephone interview. While many researchers are looking for ways to stop Type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed patients who still produce some insulin naturally, there are few options for people who have had the disease for more than a decade, Faustman said. The findings suggest it may be possible to regenerate the critical pancreatic cells, she said.
“The trial effectively is showing for the first time that the pancreas can turn on briefly after the first wave of killing the bad T cells,” those that attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, she said. While scientists may disagree about how the cells are restored, “If you are a long-term diabetic, you probably don’t care. It’s my conclusion that the pancreas has many ways to regenerate,” Faustman said.
The drug, known as bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG, can boost levels of tumor necrosis factor, an immune modulator that has been shown in laboratory tests to eliminate the damaging white blood cells responsible for diabetes, Faustman said.
The Iacocca Foundation provided funding for the study. A second, larger trial is in development, Faustman said. The goal for the second study is to spark insulin production again, maintain it for a longer period and see how high they can get it, she said.”