At JDRF, our most essential work takes place in the exciting world of Type 1 Diabetes research. Our donors and leaders regularly collaborate to fund scientific advances that bring us increasingly closer to a world without Type 1 Diabetes. In the past few months, researchers have continued this pattern of advancement and innovation, with incredible progress in a variety of fields related to T1D. With your support, we can continue to strive for new levels of comfort and convenience for T1D patients around the world — and to look forward to a future cure.
Preventative research is an important aspect of these medical advances. By studying characteristics of individuals predisposed to T1D, we can gain a more complete understanding of the disease itself. Recently, a new screening study was able to identify 153 children with genetic markers of T1D. Based on these conclusions, the researchers were able to prevent 12 of these children from entering diabetic ketoacidosis by diagnosing them before symptoms manifested.
Another area of T1D research focuses on developing and improving methods of treatment. Recently, there have been several notable achievements in this sector of study. A few months ago, the FDA approved the FreeStyle Libre, presented as the first prick-free glucose monitoring device. The Libre measures blood sugar through a small sensor wire placed under the skin on the back of the upper arm. Unlike previous models, it does not require finger pricks as calibration — it runs autonomously. Additionally, the FDA has approved the first automatic insulin dosage system, which operates as a “first-generation artificial pancreas”. The Medtronic 670G system will constantly and automatically monitor glucose levels and administer appropriate amounts of insulin, without requiring input from the user. As this technology continues to develop, these systems will become even more effective in regulating and stabilizing blood sugar.
Finally, regenerative medicine has played a major role in the treatment of T1D. Recently, scientists have discovered new methods of producing beta cells. In particular, Dr. Mark Huising and other researchers at UC Davis have observed groups of beta cells in pancreatic islets. These populations are capable of producing insulin, and studies suggest the immature beta cells could be used to replace those absent in T1D patients. This data provides essential information for designing new stem cell treatments, and it may also contribute to a more complete understanding of Type 2 Diabetes.
Our progress in these past months has been astonishing. With the JDRF community’s help, we will continue to push forward toward a cure and better treatments for those living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Written by: Lorena Bergstrom