Glucose Control

Highs and lows are kept in check

Imagine a future where, thanks to improved insulin formulations and other drugs, staying within ideal blood-glucose range is no longer a struggle.

Why it matters

The discovery that insulin could save the lives of people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) was one of the most important medical advances of the 20th century. But while today’s insulin formulations save lives, it’s difficult to achieve the tight control over blood glucose that occurs naturally in people without diabetes. This puts individuals with T1D at risk for dangerous hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes.

At JDRF, we believe managing blood sugar should be much easier. We have several exciting approaches. One is designing a glucose-responsive insulin (GRI) that will circulate through the bloodstream, turning on when it’s needed to control blood sugar and turning off when blood sugar starts to go low. A successful GRI would keep tight control over blood sugar, reduce the need for glucose monitoring and probably require fewer doses to maintain control throughout the day.

We are also funding research into other medications that could dramatically improve blood-sugar management when taken along with insulin. While we work to rid the world of T1D, we are committed to eliminating or reducing wide blood-sugar fluctuations and making management of this disease better, safer and easier.

Our pioneering research

In 2003, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineer founded a company called SmartCells to develop a glucose-responsive insulin. Others were skeptical, but JDRF saw tremendous promise and provided funding to encourage its development. In 2010, our judgment was validated when SmartCells was acquired by Merck, which is now testing the resulting glucose-responsive insulin in clinical trials.

JDRF is continuing to fund research of glucose-responsive insulin and we are making headway with several projects.

We are also exploring whether several medications used to treat type 2 diabetes will help people with T1D achieve better glucose control and allow for lower insulin doses. These are just a few of the exciting therapeutic possibilities being explored in our Glucose Control Program.


We're not just imagining a world without T1D. We're making it happen.

JDRF scientists

Meet the experts leading glucose control research.

  • Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D.

    Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D.

    Sanjoy Dutta is associate vice president, research, for JDRF, where he focuses on managing and developing ways we can treat T1D.

    Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D.

  • Marlon Pragnell, Ph.D.

    Marlon Pragnell, Ph.D.

    Marlon Pragnell is an associate director, research, and lead of the Complications Program, which aims to preserve kidney function and vision in people with T1D.

    Marlon Pragnell, Ph.D.

Explore more life-changing research

Find out why each of these research areas is part of the plan for a world without T1D.