T1D Research on the Horizon

What we’re looking forward to in 2018

It may be risky to speculate on the next research breakthrough. But at JDRF we don’t gamble on the future: we make it happen. Here are some of the cutting-edge projects we launched in 2017 that have big potential in 2018 and beyond.

Bringing powerful data analysis to T1D

We are excited to be collaborating with IBM to develop and apply machine learning methods to analyze years of global T1D research data and identify factors leading to the onset of T1D in children. This is the first precision medicine effort to identify T1D risk and onset. By developing a better understanding of risk factors and causes of T1D, we hope to eventually find a way to prevent the disease entirely. Knowledge gained from this collaboration could also help lead to a cure for those already living with T1D.

Paving the way for DIY AP systems

Over the past few years, as commercial artificial pancreas (AP) systems have been in development, a growing number of people have used do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches to “hack” their continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps to allow them to work together as an automated insulin delivery system. We’ve seen that many of those users have experienced better health outcomes as a result. But those systems, as beneficial as they can be, require some relatively sophisticated steps and are not FDA approved. JDRF has launched an initiative to make these user-driven, DIY technology approaches more accessible to a wider group of people with diabetes. We believe this will enable users of insulin delivery devices to manage their blood-glucose levels better, safely and in a way that works best for them.

Pursuing a potential cure for T1D

In 2017, Patrick Collombat, Ph.D., of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), launched a new clinical trial of a potential beta cell regeneration therapy called GABA. GABA encourages alpha cells in the pancreas (which normally produce glucagon) to convert into beta cells and has been shown to produce new beta cells in mice. If the trial results show that the therapy is safe and works well in people, it could lead to a biological cure for T1D.

Launching these and other projects was a big part of our success in 2017. Look back on other highlights for T1D research in our 2017 review.

By Monica Harrington