In autoimmunity, the immune system fails to recognize self and attacks healthy tissues. For example, in type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are attacked by autoreactive T cells. The Faustman Lab has identified a key family of immune cells responsible for regulating the immune response. This has led to the discovery of novel antibodies to correct this misregulation as well as a drug screening initiative to discover a role for existing and affordable therapies. Learn more:
For the last 20 years, the Faustman Lab has been the leader in investigating the potential of the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine to prevent and reverse autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes. This research has advanced from early mouse studies, moving to mechanistic, in vitro trials and now a multi-trial human clinical research program. The Faustman lab showed that BCG boosts a cytokine called TNF, which is beneficial in autoimmune diseases by directly eliminating the autoreactive T cells that attack the pancreas, as well as by inducing beneficial immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs).
In 2018 the Faustman Lab announced long term data on BCG treated patients followed for more than five years. All of the patients in the studies showed a durable and significant improvement in HbA1c. Learn More:
In cancer, the immune system is tricked into not attacking the cancerous cells. The Faustman lab identified a population of regulatory immune cells essential to turning the immune system back on. This has led to the generation of a novel class of antibodies specific to the tumor microenviromonment. Learn more:
A growing body of data suggests that BCG vaccination has benefits beyond the prevention of tuberculosis, or “off-target” effects including prevention of non-tuberculosis-related infections, upper respiratory infections, and COVID-19. We conducted a randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled study evaluating the safety and efficacy of multi-dose BCG vaccination for the prevention COVID-19 and other infectious disease in type 1 diabetics. This study took place prior to the introduction of novel COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021. We observed a cumulative incidence of confirmed COVID-19 in 12.5% of placebo-treated participants and 1% of BCG-treated participants, yielding an efficacy of 92%. This study highlights BCG’s value in providing platform protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants and other pathogens. Read the paper:.