The Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine is used world wide to protect against TB, but also confers protection against leprosy and acts as immunotherapy against non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Reduced incidence of certain diseases where they routinely inoculate against TB hint at BCG’s heterologous effects and its potential to address autoimmune conditions.
Ongoing trials in Italy measure clinical progression of early MS, after single dose administration of BCG. The results of an initial trial testing BCG in a cohort of CIS patients, summarized in the journal nature reviews, shows a marked decrease in progressive MS symptoms compared to placebo. The same researchers are now testing to see possible benefits of administering BCG even earlier in the disease course to a group of RIS patients. One wonders what added benefit multi-dose administration might yield in this indication, given the greater efficacy of multi dose in other conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and recurrent mouth ulcers (canker sores).
Type 1 Diabetes
There is compelling evidence that BCG may help diabetes patients. In one study, advanced type 1 diabetics administered a couple doses of BCG spaced about a month apart, saw long term reductions to A1C and reduced their insulin needs. These data seem to agree with the results from an earlier pilot study in new-onset juvenile diabetes that found a significant number of juvenile diabetics who went into remission shortly after receiving a single dose of BCG.
The idea to test BCG in fibromyalgia is not new and has been the subject of some controversy. However, recent research that paints fibromyalgia as the result of neuro-inflammation, bolsters the argument to test BCG in this indication. A BCG trial in dementia has already been proposed using a similar rationale. BCG appears to modulate microglial activity via trained immunity thus reducing inflammation. There is evidence this is specifically mediated by TNF. Studies in other inflammatory conditions suggest the utility of testing multi-dose BCG administration.
BCG’s effect on the immune system could help in other diseases and is currently being trialed in Alzheimer’s. Other diseases under consideration include Sjogren’s Syndrome and Systemic Lupus.
Disclaimer: Myco Médico is not affiliated with any trials or research being conducted on BCG