At JDRF, we are committed to funding the development of new therapies to keep people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) healthier, longer, until cures are found. We saw an incredible number of key advances that have both improved the lives of those living with the disease today and that have taken us so much closer to cures for T1D. Here to tell you about it is Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., President and CEO at JDRF. (You can also read the top advances below the video.)
Two-Year Delay in Onset: An immune therapy was able to significantly delay—for an average of two years—the onset of T1D. The drug is called teplizumab, and this was the first ever study in humans to show a delay in the onset of type 1. The drug is now being tested in a phase 3 clinical trial in people who have been recently diagnosed, headed by Provention Bio, a company with an investment from the JDRF T1D Fund. If successful, we will be moving ever closer to a world without this disease.
Second Artificial Pancreas System Approved: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an algorithm that clears the way for the second artificial pancreas system to enter the market: the Tandem Control-IQ technology. Use of the algorithm resulted in more time-in-range, with less highs and lows, and no severe low blood-sugar events. This is a win for all of us in the T1D community as it provides people with another option to improve daily blood-sugar management.
Europe and Japan Approve Three Adjunct Therapies: SGLT inhibitors, which have been approved for type 2 diabetes since 2011 and help diminish blood-sugar swings, received approval for use within T1D, as well. European and Japanese authorities approved three SGLT inhibitors, to use with insulin to improve glycemic control in adults. These approvals provide the international community with another option to improve daily blood-sugar management, and we applaud the international community for these approvals.
Pharma Makes a Landmark Investment: Our investment in the T1D space has been multiplied by the JDRF T1D Fund, a venture philanthropy fund we started in 2016. Now just over three years old, the T1D Fund had almost 100 million dollars under management and had made almost 50 million dollars in investments. One of those companies, Semma Therapeutics made headlines when it was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals for nearly 1 billion dollars. Semma was founded by Dr. Doug Melton, who was backed by JDRF and made breakthroughs in making beta cells from stem cells, work that Semma continues to advance toward novel beta cell replacement therapies for T1D. By bringing other, larger firms’ investments in the T1D space and re-investing returns from its investments, we can leverage our resources much more quickly and strategically, with the ultimate goal to find cures for T1D and improve the lives of those living with the disease today.
JDRF Advocacy: Our volunteers, teams and Advocacy Leadership have also done tremendous work this past year, passionately fighting for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program and additional funding for T1D research. This included hosting our 2019 Children’s Congress, with 165 student delegates sharing their personal stories and showcasing the need for ongoing research to find cures for T1D. JDRF Advocacy has also been relentless in speaking up against the high cost of insulin and ensuring personal choice in treatments.
Community Engagement: Our Chapters and Community Engagement teams also have increased educational efforts, mentorships, support for the newly-diagnosed and new information on advances in technology, medicine and research that might help their personal management of this disease. Their work is both tireless and inspiring, and incredibly impactful.
As a community, we want to grow stronger and healthier together. As an organization, we will push harder, faster and with dedicated focus to get us to cures.