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Vaccine BCG Seen as Possible Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

But diabetes group tamp down expectations.

The attenuated Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) strain has been used as a vaccine against tuberculosis for 100 years. But recently, researchers have been experimenting with using the vaccine as treatment for inflammatory and autoimmune conditions because of its notable anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reported results last month in Nature Partner Journal Vaccines that showed that two doses of BCG lowered HbA1c to near-normal levels in people with type 1 diabetes.

JDRF (the official name of what was once known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the American Diabetes Association issued a joint statement after study results were published, cautioning against misinterpreting the findings and stating that they “do not provide enough clinical evidence to support any recommended change in therapy at this time,” according to Kaiser Health News.

The BCG is priced at about $150 a dose, so it would be a relatively inexpensive intervention. But if BCG works to treat Type 1 diabetes, its current cheap could rise, Gerard Anderson, a professor of health policy and management and medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told Kaiser.

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