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.
T1D Research Highlights of 2017
Read on to learn how JDRF research in the past year is making life with type 1 diabetes (T1D) better, including clinical trials of a therapy that helps to reduce HbA1c—which provides a longer-term gauge of blood-glucose control—and improves other key health measures.Read more
Help for Hypoglycemia in T1D
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can be one of the scariest parts of managing type 1 diabetes (T1D). That’s why JDRF and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust convened a panel of experts to discuss research and development initiatives that could accelerate the delivery of new therapies to regulate blood sugar without going to low.Read more
JDRF Applauds FDA Decision
JDRF applauds the FDA decision to approve a new indication for use for the Dexcom G5® Mobile Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System. The Dexcom G5® CGM is now indicated to replace fingerstick blood glucose testing for diabetes management decisions.Read more
Making a Better Insulin
JDRF and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust hosted the first workshop to explore glucose-responsive insulins (GRIs). Leading investigators, industry representatives and patient advocates worked to identify the major challenges to advance GRIs and brainstormed the ideal model for these first-generation therapies.Read more
Most type 1 diabetes (T1D) patients rely solely on insulin to control their glucose levels, but a growing number of researchers and medical professionals are exploring whether non-insulin drugs could be paired with insulin to better manage T1D.Read more
Fresh Perspectives Invigorate Insulin Research
JDRF has partnered with Sanofi on a new initiative that supports several investigators in the development of glucose-responsive insulins (GRIs), innovative insulins whose activity is tied to blood-glucose levels. Together, JDRF and Sanofi have committed almost $5 million in milestone-based funding over three years to four researchers.Read more
Glucagon Hormone May Improve Artificial Pancreas Function
JDRF industry partner Xeris Pharmaceuticals is developing a glucagon hormone formulation that may provide tighter control of blood sugar when used as part of an AP system.Read more
Inhaled Insulin Approved
In June 2014, the FDA approved MannKind’s Afrezza®, a fasting-acting inhaled insulin, to aid glucose control in adults with T1D.
Stable Glucagon Could Help Curb Low Blood Sugar
JDRF-funded researchers in 2012 formulated a stable form of glucagon. When paired with insulin, it has the potential to counter hypoglycemia.Read more
JDRF Provides Early Funding for Glucose-Responsive Insulin
In 2008, JDRF formed a partnership with SmartCells and funded the development of what was then called “smart insulin.”Read more
Meet the experts leading glucose control research.
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 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.