Dr. Faustman is using BCG to diminish the autoimmune attack on pancreatic beta cells. BCG has been used for many decades to treat both tuberculosis and bladder cancer, and among those patients were no doubt many diabetics, but not one of them was ever cured of the disease by BCG: otherwise we would have discovered its curative potential long ago. Faustman knows that something else in addition to BCG must be added to stimulate the burned-out beta cells to regenerate sufficiently to produce enough insulin to make a clinical difference, but so far, nothing has worked. Sure, small increases in output are evident, but significant dose reductions in insulin are not possible, and the patient will always remain dependent on insulin injections.
Her actual goal I suspect is not to try to cure diabetes anymore by actually getting patients off injected insulin, but rather, just to revive damaged beta cells enough so that they produce more c-peptide, which is a molecule they naturally produce along with insulin molecules. While the miniscule increase in insulin output that can be achieved by Faustman’s methods won’t make any clinical difference, even the very slight boost in c-peptide production may, since patients with higher residual c-peptide levels have less development of complications than those with lower levels. But are higher c-peptide levels a cause of milder complications or merely a correlate of them?
For a long time now there have been researchers, such as Professor Wahren, arguing that diabetics should be injected with c-peptide as a way to help prevent complications, but some experiments with c-peptide have suggested that it might also be harmful. This is why I wonder whether there is a direct correlation between higher c-peptide levels and better patient outcomes, or whether higher residual levels of c-peptide might be a side-effect of some other mechanism associated with a milder form of diabetes which diminishes the complications, such as the enhanced protection of DNA from hyperglycemic damage which has been found to protect patients from complications in the Joslin’s 50-year Medalist study.