Could a Diabetes Vaccine Exist?

Vaccination is the epitome of health care. Research could pave the way to developing more vaccines to many more diseases; next in the horizon is diabetes.


Let’s face is, vaccines are the scientific discovery of the century. When in the past people would die from common illnesses like whooping cough, today, vaccines save millions of lives by helping the body fend off viral and bacterial diseases. In fact, thanks to vaccines, one disease has been eradicated: smallpox.

To date, over 80 FDA-approved vaccines exist in the market, with much more in development. They provide immunity to diseases like whooping cough, tetanus, polio, chicken pox, hepatitis, among many others. They are clearly a brilliant development in the scientific

Wouldn’t it be great if a diabetes vaccine also existed? This dream may soon become a reality thanks to the many scientists studying and developing vaccines.

Two vaccines are being designed to prevent type 1 diabetes. The first consists of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or BCG. This drug is used as a treatment for many conditions, including bladder cancer and the tuberculosis vaccine. In 2012, a study showed that BCG could aid patients with type 1 diabetes. Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital found that when mice were treated with a BCG vaccine, it raise their tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF has the capability of killing the cells that destroy the insulin-producing cells in the body, effectively preventing type 1 diabetes. This vaccine is being tested on its effects on humans. Denise Faustman, the leader of this study, is hopeful.

The second vaccine in development is led by Dr. Mohamed Husseiny Elsayed from the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Duarte, California. The drug, based on salmonella, was also tested in mice. The effect seen in mice was positive, and not only did it counteract diabetes type 1, but it also normalized the mice’s glucose tolerance. Elsayed considers the vaccine “a very safe and targeted immunotherapy.”

With all these and more impressive advances in medical research, maybe diabetes will be eradicated like smallpox.


BattleDiabetes. Diabetes Vaccine: Possibilities in the Horizon. Accessed March 06, 2017.