At the world’s largest diabetes research conference, held June 9-13, JDRF-funded researchers highlighted exciting breakthroughs and vital work that is paving the way to new type 1 diabetes therapies. Three JDRF projects headlined an extended lineup of research projects at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 77th Scientific Sessions in San Diego.
The first was the unveiling Monday of the results of a landmark trial testing whether blockbuster cancer drug imatinib (brand name Gleevec) has the potential to slow the progression of T1D in newly diagnosed human adults. The study is scheduled to continue for an additional 12 months to determine how durable these responses are over time. Since 2014, JDRF has been funding a University of California San Francisco research team led by Dr. Stephen Gitelman to conduct this Phase 2 trial as a follow-up to the promising results found in a previous JDRF-funded study in mice. The trial found that the drug slowed the progression of T1D and the loss of the body’s own insulin production, as on average, the people who got the medicine used less insulin and had higher beta cell function. For more on the study, see our 2014 Q&A with Dr. Gitelman.
In addition to the UCSF grant, JDRF also supported Gleevec pre-clinical studies and worked with the FDA and the drug’s maker, Novartis.
Another JDRF-sponsored trial to present results at ADA, the REMOVAL trial, showed that the type 2 diabetes drug metformin has beneficial effects on cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes in adults with longstanding T1D. These results are extremely relevant to the T1D community, as heart disease is the most common cause of reduced life expectancy in people with type 1 diabetes. The results showed reduced thickening of the arteries in adults with T1D, meaning there is now a stronger case to use metformin more widely as a long-term strategy to reduce heart disease risk in T1D. The REMOVAL trial, led by the University of Glasgow, is the largest clinical trial of metformin therapy in type 1 diabetes to date. JDRF funded the five-year international trial, which studied individuals with T1D in the UK, U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The third landmark trial is the international Diabetes TrialNet Oral Insulin Prevention Trial, the largest and longest oral insulin prevention trial ever conducted. This study sought to answer whether treatment at early stages of disease can delay progression to clinical (stage 3) type 1 diabetes. While there was not significant evidence of efficacy in the main group tested, in one of the subgroups, oral insulin was able to delay the progression of T1D by 31 months on average.
These studies are among many JDRF supported projects being presented at ADA, as well as a panel presentation that JDRF’s Chief Mission Officer, Dr. Aaron Kowalski, gave on artificial pancreas technologies and the future face of diabetes care, including JDRF’s investments in next-generation closed-loop technologies that would offer improvements such as a smaller size, the ability to be implanted, longer wear, more automation, additional inputs and adjunct therapies.