Leading researchers gathered, virtually, for the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), which took place from September 22-25. There were more than 20,000 attendees, from countries like Egypt, Brazil, Australia, Spain and the United States, and featured more than 40 studies presented by JDRF researchers, funded now or in the past, working to find cures for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and improve the lives of those living with the disease today.
Here are a few highlights!
- Artificial Pancreas Technologies: In a debate on open source versus commercial closed-loop systems, Dana Lewis and Henk-Jan Aanstoot, M.D., Ph.D., both of whom are JDRF funded, instead emphasized that open source and commercial systems are not mutually exclusive. Ms. Lewis, one of the founders of the do-it-yourself (DIY) diabetes movement, applauded the ability of open source closed loop systems to provide users flexibility and personalization in their insulin delivery. Aanstoot argued that commercial closed loop systems offer the most value to the most people. Bottom line: it depends on personal preference.
- Standardizing Clinical Trials: INNODIA (INNOvative DIAbetes)—a European public-private partnership, funded, in part, by JDRF—has developed a Master Protocol, in order to facilitate clinical trials and accelerate the testing of multiple drugs for T1D, either alone or in combinations. There are currently four scheduled INNODIA related trials: (1) MELD-ATG, testing the drug anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) that showed preservation of C-peptide, a marker of insulin production, in individuals with recently diagnosed T1D; (2) VeR-A-T1D, studying the blood pressure drug verapamil, which preserved beta cell function in recently diagnosed individuals; (3) CFZ533, testing iscalimab in newly diagnosed disease; and IMPACT, investigating the immune therapy IMCY-0098. In a separate presentation, Nicolas Bovy, Ph.D., of the company Imcyse, discussed the initial results of a clinical trial of IMCY-0098, which, in the highest dose, reduced the number of immune cells implicated in beta cell destruction. Learn more about INNODIA here.
- Advice for Beta Cell Replacement Therapy: JDRF-funded Eelco de Koning, M.D., Ph.D., provided an overview of research into stem cell-derived beta cells for islet transplantation, paying particular attention to the promises and pitfalls of cell delivery devices in development. There remains the decision about when—i.e., at which step of differentiation—to transplant the generated cells, and which method to take when transplanting these cells into people. While routine use of stem cell-derived transplants and their delivery devices remains in the “far future,” they certainly present attractive remedies to the current disadvantages of cell replacement therapies.
- A Potential First-in-Class Adjunct Therapy: vTv Therapeutics presented the completed JDRF-funded phase II Simplici-T1 study, which summarized the clinical data and provided further evidence that treatment with TTP399 resulted in significant improvements in HbA1c with reduction in bolus insulin dose and, importantly, without increasing the risk of life-threatening events associated with T1D: diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and severe low blood sugar. Results from the human study support the clinical potential of the glucokinase activator (GKA) TTP399 as an oral adjunctive therapy in T1D.
- COVID and T1D: In England, people with T1D had higher odds—3-fold—of in-hospital COVID-19-related death compared to people without diabetes, but Catarina Limbert, M.D., Ph.D., emphasized that this applies to a narrow part of the population: you have to be above 50, have had T1D for more than 20 years, have had an HbA1c of more than 10 percent and have a high prevalence of co-morbidities. She also put to rest the idea that COVID-19 may trigger more cases of new-onset T1D; she says it’s unlikely. We’ll see on that front.