As we close the doors on 2020 and reflect on all that it has brought us, first and foremost, we are grateful for the health of our loved ones and the support of the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community. This year has brought unprecedented challenges as the result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and our communities and loved ones have been significantly impacted. Yet, the continual support and partnership of our community shine through, exemplifying the strengths of people facing T1D–resilience, ingenuity, and compassion.
During these unusual times, we at JDRF have remained true to our mission. We continue to witness remarkable T1D advances, made possible by your generosity, punctuating the landscape. This momentum results from your passion, dedication, and generosity. Below are highlights of how you have impacted the lives of people with T1D and their loved ones this calendar year.
Backed by JDRF supporters, T1D research has led to critical advances in two key areas in our quest for cures: Beta Cell Therapies and Immune Therapies. So promising is the work that scientists say they see open windows, offering line of sight to potential cures.
We are going straight to the source of the problem to cure T1D: beta cells. JDRF-funded researchers are exploring several approaches, including transplanting lab-engineered beta cells to promote insulin production. This beta cell replacement strategy builds on the Edmonton Protocol. Multiple devices are in clinical trials led by JDRF partners, such as ViaCyte, Sernova, and others.
JDRF scientists also continue developing drugs to help the body make more beta cells, to replace the missing ones. Recent breakthroughs include a new combination of drugs that can effectively achieve this, as well as the discovery of immune therapies that may do the same. This work has tremendous promise not only in T1D but for people impacted by other autoimmune diseases.
With your support, we have made tremendous progress in automating insulin delivery through artificial pancreas systems, also known as hybrid closed-loop systems. Today, there are three systems available, including a system that children as young as 2 can use. In addition, many more devices are in development that utilize interoperability (allowing mix and match between pumps and continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs), smaller and less intrusive designs with advanced algorithms.
Our investments in therapies to treat and prevent diabetes-related vision loss and kidney diseases are heading toward regulatory review and approval. Furthermore, we have prioritized the emphasis on behavioral health supports, not only for those diagnosed but for also for their loved ones. These initiatives have roots in the work that many of you engage in your local communities to help improve health outcomes for people and families with T1D.
Creating Health Access and Equity
Our mission—creating a world without T1D—means that research is not enough. To accelerate cures and help people now and in the future, this research must be translated into therapies and devices that gain regulatory approval and are affordable and accessible. Our Advocacy program is central in these efforts and have also led to pharmaceutical companies lowering insulin prices in the U.S. and the ability for people with T1D to use CGMs when hospitalized in the U.S.
Furthermore, as the largest nonprofit funder of research to discover T1D cures and a passionate advocate for policies and treatments that improve the quality of life for the T1D community, JDRF is committed to ensuring that every individual with T1D should: receive a prompt and correct diagnosis from an expert clinician; have access to the full spectrum of affordable, live-saving treatments and resources to help manage their T1D; be embraced by a supportive, diverse and inclusive community that understands the unique challenges of living with T1D; and have hope for a world in which no one has to live with the burden of T1D. Meeting these conditions would enable every individual with T1D has the same, obstacle-free opportunity to live a healthy, fulfilling life: a state of health equity.
The Power of Us
Your support has helped create the breakthroughs described above and many others. You have played a critical role in our clear and urgent mission: Through research, this disease will be cured.
Today, our work continues. Some of the most exciting new initiatives include the CLVer (Closed-Loop + Verapamil) clinical trial to determine if there are even more powerful benefits to using artificial pancreas systems, such as improving beta cell function one year after diagnosis. We are also launching a trial on JAK inhibitor, currently used in rheumatoid arthritis, that has shown the ability to reverse T1D.
It may be difficult to think about in light of the challenges we face today—but T1D does not stop, so neither do we. Never before have we seen so many opportunities emerge that can significantly change the lives of people with T1D. Thank you for joining us to create a world without T1D, and we hope that you will continue to support our mission until we turn type 1 into type none.