Study: Generic Vaccine May Be Effective Long-Term Diabetes Treatment


Patients with type 1 diabetes who received a generic vaccine had normal blood sugar levels 8 years later.

A recent study shows that a generic vaccine could be an effective long-term treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Patients who participated in a study to test the efficacy of a generic vaccine against bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) as a treatment for type 1 diabetes still had normal blood sugar levels up to 8 years after the trial, according to a study published in npj Vaccines.

Five-year follow-up results of a separate group of BCG clinical trial participants with longstanding type 1 diabetes will be presented on Saturday, June 23, at the 78th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Orlando, FL by Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The BCG vaccine is typically used to prevent tuberculosis, according to the study. In this trial, however, 2 doses were administered 4 weeks apart to adults with type 1 diabetes.

According to published study results, the trial lasted 20 weeks and consisted of 282 adults with type 1 diabetes—52 adults with who received the vaccine, and blood samples from another 230 adults, according to the researchers.

No initial results were seen at the end of the 20-week trial, according to the study.

Researchers found through frequent monitoring that patient’s HbA1c levels had dropped by 10% in 3 years, and up to 18 percent after 4 years, according to the study. This decrease in blood sugar levels was maintained 8 years after the initial trial.

After 8 years, patients had an average HbA1c level of 6.65, close to the 6.5 threshold for diabetes diagnoses.

“This is clinical validation of the potential to stably lower blood sugars to near normal levels with a safe vaccine, even in patients with longstanding disease," said Faustman, in a statement. "In addition to the clinical outcomes, we now have a clear understanding of the mechanisms through which limited BCG vaccine doses can make permanent, beneficial changes to the immune system and lower blood sugars in type 1 diabetes."

Study authors noted that they will move forward by testing the efficacy of the vaccine in children and patients with type 2 diabetes.


  • BCG vaccine leads to long-term improvement in blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetes patients [news release]. Boston, MA: June 21, 2018; Massachusetts General Hospital public affairs. Accessed June 22, 2018.

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