You’ve maybe never heard of Bacillus Calmette–Guérin—it sounds kinda French after all, so why would you? But scratch a little deeper and you’ll find that BCG, as it’s commonly known, is one of the most overlooked wonder-drugs of our time.
BCG is first and foremost the world’s most common tuberculosis vaccine, and was first used in humans all the way back in 1921. Made from a weakened strain of live bovine tuberculosis bacteria, it’s been show to be up to 80 percent effective in preventing TB for a duration of 15 years, depending on geographical location. That’s pretty impressive, which is why—US aside—it’s shoved into many a childhood arm around the world. But that’s just the beginning.
Jumping from TB to cancer is quite a leap, but it’s one BCG has made time and again. As far back as 1979, a clinical trial declared that “BCG is beneficial in the treatment of lung cancer”. Then, in 1991, a study published in the new England Journal of Medicine suggested that the BCG vaccine offered strong protection against the recurrence of bladder cancer.
There followed a 1994 trial which provided evidence that BCG increased survival time and reduced risk of recurrence in those suffering from malignant melanoma; reports that it was beneficial in the treatment of colorectal cancer; and, most recently, concrete examples of its beneficial effects in bladder cancer treatment.
TB, dead. Four disparate types of cancer kept in check. That alone would make for a pretty impressive scorecard. But wait, there’s more The Miracle Cure That’s Hiding in Plain Sight.