To cure or not to cure? – by the Cornflake Traveller
So in November last year the Daily Mail published an article titled “Have researchers found a way to REVERSE Type 1 diabetes? Common heart drug found to work in mice and set for human trial” and they reported that these trials would start “next year”, well that time has come.
The FDA has approved a clinical trial to see if a 90-year-old vaccine for tuberculosis can be used to reverse the destructive effects the immune system has on the insulin producing cells in Type 1 diabetics.
The proposed five-year study is designed to investigate whether the BCG vaccine can cause an increase in the amount of good immune system cells, and lower levels of the bad cells that cause the damage. It appears that higher levels of a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) causes this tipping of the balance and allows at least some of the Beta cells to regenerate.
Previous studies on mice and five humans have shown an increase in insulin production which some say could reduce the more harmful complications Type 1 individuals can develop in later life and others say, with further research, it could lead to a cure. To make the millions out there get even more excited higher levels of TNF appear to be helpful in other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or coeliac disease and the vaccine has been used for about 90 years, so it has a long record of safety.
There are some sceptics out there that don’t think that the damage to the beta cells can be reversed, which is a fair point but I personally have hope because even if it’s not possible this year, the potential is there and as technology improves so will our chances.
When I first heard about the possibility for a realistic chance of me becoming a non-diabetic I felt strange. My childhood memories from before I was diabetic are now so faint I can’t really remember not having diabetes and the daily blood testing, injecting and constant thoughts about what I ingest are all I have known. I have written before how I am grateful to have had diabetes because it has given me some experiences non-diabetics cannot have and shaped my personality to make me seize the moment and live my life now. So I am resistant to the idea of a “cure” as my diabetes is part of me, I don’t feel abnormal or like I need to be cured.
At the same time being freed from my diabetes would set me free on so many levels and improve every aspect of my life so when I try and imagine how I would feel it does nothing but excite me as my happiness would go off the chart.
Anyway, the trial is set to last five years so there is time to chew on the idea and if I can get my hands on a synthesised form of that TNF I’d happily experiment with small doses and see what it did to my insulin levels.