The rising cost of type 1 diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases, has created heavy financial burdens for families and generated controversy, with insulin prices more than doubled in the last decade.
Without his parents' insurance, "I would not be alive," said Gaytan, a student at the University of Maryland.
Blood sugar levels, known as A1c, from those followed for eight years decreased by more than 10 percent three years after injection and were maintained for five more years.
Although the trial involved a small number of patients, the researchers, led by Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Mbadachusetts General Hospital, are conducting a larger Phase 2 trial of BCG for treat diabetes and see if the results are maintained.
Still, Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the findings, noting the "incredibly high price" for patients with diabetes. But he warned against the possibility of generating "too much exaggeration" among families before it is proven that the treatment is effective.
Dr. Joseph Bellanti, professor emeritus of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology, was also encouraged by the findings of the studies. While he acknowledged the skepticism surrounding Faustman's research, scrutiny is a necessary part of the scientific process, he said.
"We are looking for the truth, and we want to make sure that the results and interpretations are correct," said Bellanti, "and that requires a healthy debate."
Faustman He said his findings are important because they suggest that the vaccine could have positive effects in the treatment of diabetes, similar to what has been seen in previous research on other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, which involve a reaction of the immune system against normal tissue.
"It also opens up a lot of new potential avenues," said Faustman, adding that it could help develop interventions for other groups suffering from chronic diseases.
Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed In childhood, it occurs when the immune system destroys the cells that produce it and insulin. evils of this vital hormone, but their bodies do not respond properly.
For patients like Gaytan, the possibility of new medications to simplify and reduce the costs of their treatment is tempting. She injects insulin and checks her blood sugar level five times a day. And he attends therapy to help deal with the burden of life with a chronic condition and worries about how he can afford it in the future.
"I know that diabetic families [whose] pay everything," he said, adding "they just can not afford it."
According to Connecture, the list price for Apidra SoloStar, an injectable insulin product that Gaytan uses several times a day, increased from $ 33.24 per pen in early 2009 to $ 104.28 per pen in early 2018.
Faustman said that the research has documented the mechanism by which the old vaccine reduces blood sugar levels. In the Phase 2 trial, he will try to replicate his findings by following 150 participants with the disease for five years. It will be at least another four years until the results are published.
Drug makers are experts in reorganizing old medications to treat new conditions, he said, adding: "It could result in no cost savings at all, and, in fact, a higher price."