Could a cheap vaccine be the key to treating diabetes? -

Could a cheap vaccine be the key to treating diabetes?

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(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(Meredith) -- Could a decades-old tuberculosis vaccine help treat type 1 diabetes? A controversial new study by Dr. Denise Faustman at Massachusetts General Hospital says the affordable vaccine could lower blood sugar to near normal levels.

"This cheap, old vaccine is lowering blood sugar to levels never achieved before," Faustman said.

According to a study published Thursday, patients received two doses of the vaccine and found their blood sugar levels decreased by about a third. Lowering blood sugar decreases the risk of complications and means the patient can take smaller doses of insulin less frequently. It's a significant improvement in the patients' quality of life.

While the results of the study look promising, not everyone is convinced. Experts in the field, like Georgetown University's Dr. Joseph Bellanti, are skeptical of Faustman's study. Bellanti, who was not involved in Faustman's research, told Stat News he was "cautiously optimistic."

One oft-noted issue is the sample size of the study. The vaccine was tested on a total of only nine patients, and it took about three years for the vaccine to take effect and lower their blood sugar. Stat News reports Faustman has been criticized in the past for her unorthodox research and has been accused of cruelly raising the expectations of patients.

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