DRC & Research News

This page shares the latest news in T1D research and DRC’s community.

Get the most recent diabetes research news, delivered straight to your inbox

david winkler

National Tell A Story Day: A Founder’s Story

At the age of six, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t have the same energy as all the other kids did that I played with. My mom took me to the doctor and after running a few tests, the doctor says to my mom and me, “David has Type 1 Diabetes and won’t live past the age of 30”. We were devasted. Trying to comprehend and make sense of what my diagnosis actually meant at age 6 was impossible. There were no support systems in place back then. Not for me and not for my family.

It was 1960 and the management of T1D was in the “Stone Age”. I remember having to sharpen my own needles at home with a grinding stone, so I could inject myself with animal insulin that gave me horrible welts, it was extremely painful. To monitor my blood sugar, my mom would drive me to the hospital once a quarter to test through a urine sample.

Today, my blood is tested 288 times a day through a monitor. Those needles that I had to sharpen myself, have been replaced with an insulin pen. And, I proved those doctor’s wrong, I’m now in my 60’s, well past the age of 30. While recalling my journey with this disease, I realized that the time lapse between then and now is 50 years – an entire generation.

When I think about all of the advancements that have been made, how far we have come in 50 years, I’m amazed. In one generation, Genentech discovered how to synthesize human insulin. The accuracy of glucose testing has improved drastically. Blood glucose monitors now allow us to monitor at home. While researchers have not found a cure yet, in their search for one, they have found ways to improve the lives of those of us living with this extremely difficult disease and I for one, am forever grateful.

Imagine if today, the 1.3 million people affected by this disease were still having to inject themselves with animal insulin? This is why funding research is so important and why I founded the Diabetes Research Connection. To offer hope and advancements and one day, a cure.

Find out more about the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) and how to support our efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org/join-us/

Learn More +
Ederly Black Male in front of flower shop

Could Patients with Type 1 Diabetes Benefit from Medical Alert Systems?

Patients living with type 1 diabetes do a whole lot of balancing. Aside from having to always keep their blood sugar and insulin levels in check, they also need to make sure that they strike the perfect balance between the medication they take, the food they eat and the exercises they do. The good news, however, is that it’s becoming a lot easier for patients to keep track of their levels thanks to emerging diabetes technologies. Moreover, companies are getting closer to perfecting closed-loop systems that aim to automate as much of the monitoring and treatment processes as possible so the patient can focus on things that they care about. Does this mean, therefore, that there’s no longer any need for patients to invest in medical alert systems? Well, the short answer is not quite.

Consider the possible complications

While the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are quite manageable, the complications can be a bit trickier. Aside from eye, nerve and kidney damage, it can also cause heart and blood vessel issues, which could lead to heart attacks. Needless to say, whenever a heart attack happens, time is always of the essence. The faster the patient is given proper treatment, the bigger their chances of survival. This is where the ability to quickly contact emergency services comes in. Medical alert systems make it possible for patients to easily call for help even if they are alone or, for some reason, incapacitated.

They’re meant to augment the patient’s existing tools

Again, living with type 1 diabetes requires the patient to keep track and balance a lot of things. This means that a simple change in one thing—like the type of exercises they do or the food they eat—could easily change their body’s overall dynamic. This, of course, could lead to all sorts of unforeseen issues—which is another reason why it’s crucial for patients to have some form of medical alert system in their diabetes toolkits at all times.

Readiness is key

It’s definitely becoming so much easier for patients with type 1 diabetes to live with their condition. With modern tools for monitoring and treatment becoming more and more sophisticated, the risk for serious complications has gone down significantly. This, however, does not mean that it’s okay to be complacent. At the end of the day, medical alert systems still give patients a significantly better fighting chance in case something goes wrong, and that’s definitely not an opportunity anyone should pass on.

Learn More +
Low Blood Sugar

What You Need to Know About Hypoglycemia Unawareness

Many people are aware of warning signs that their blood sugar is too low. They experience sweating, shakiness, hunger, or dizziness. They may also feel confused, sleepy, or weak. As a result, they eat or drink something to bring their blood sugar back up. However, some people with diabetes are unaware of the signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar – not that they don’t know what the symptoms are, they just don’t experience or perceive them. This can be dangerous to their health and well-being.

There are numerous risk factors for hypoglycemia including:

  • Sleeping: Blood sugar may drop while sleeping and occur frequently enough that it alters their ability to detect symptoms while awake.
  • Time: The longer someone lives with diabetes, the less sensitive they may become to low blood sugar. People who have used insulin for 20 years or more tend to be at greater risk.
  • Age: Older adults may experience cognitive changes that affect their ability to recognize hypoglycemia.
  • Exercise: Rigorous exercise can affect blood sugar levels up to 15 hours later.
  • Alcohol: When the liver is occupied with processing alcohol, it may not be able to release glucose as effectively resulting in hypoglycemia.
  • Prescription Drugs: Certain medications may affect a person’s ability to recognize symptoms of low blood sugar.

However, there are several ways to manage hypoglycemia unawareness and be proactive in keeping blood sugar in check.

  • Testing blood sugar more frequently throughout the day can help individuals to recognize when their blood sugar is getting low so they can treat it early.
  • Using a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM) or automatic insulin delivery (AID) device can help with tracking blood sugar trends and administering or suspending insulin as necessary. This can help to achieve more stable blood glucose levels and reduce incidences of hypoglycemia.
  • Using long-acting or fast-acting insulin analogs may help as well, especially at night and during meal times.
  • Targeted training on improved insulin usage and how to be proactive in managing blood sugar can reduce risk. Working with a certified diabetes educator can be very beneficial in managing hypoglycemia unawareness.

Effectively managing blood sugar is an essential part of living with type 1 diabetes, but that can be difficult, especially with so many contributing factors and the fact that every person is different. That is what makes the work of the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) even more important. The DRC provides vital funding for early career scientists to pursue novel research projects geared toward diagnosing, treating, and curing type 1 diabetes, as well as improving quality of life for individuals living with the disease. Their studies have the potential to make a difference in the future of type 1 diabetes care. Find out more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

Learn More +
SGLT2 Inhibitors

Examining the Impact of Adding SGLT2 Inhibitors to T1D Treatment

For individuals living with type 1 diabetes, every day consists of checking their blood glucose levels, monitoring what they eat, and taking the appropriate amount of insulin to keep their blood sugar levels stable. However, long-term use of insulin can lead to undesirable dose-dependent side effects such as weight gain and hypoglycemia. Since there is currently no cure for T1D, these effects can be concerning because individuals must continue to take insulin for the foreseeable future.

Looking for a way to curb these effects, a recent study examined the efficacy of adding sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2) to treatment for T1D. The medications used for the study were canagliflozin, empagliflozin, sotagliflozin, and dapagliflozin. Four different randomized controlled trials were conducted.

The results showed numerous positive changes when insulin use was combined with one of the four medications. There were statistically significant reductions in A1c levels as well as weight gain. In addition, the amount of insulin needed also decreased. While each medication led to different results, they all had similar effects on reducing these issues. Furthermore, the addition of these medications to treatment did not lead to any significant changes in risk associated with hypoglycemia, adverse events, or episodes of DKA.

This was a small study, so more extensive testing is necessary to evaluate the effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on T1D treatment on a larger scale. However, these initial tests show promising results and support for conducting more thorough investigations.

It is these types of forward-thinking research studies aimed at improving treatment and quality life for individuals living with T1D that the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is passionate about supporting. Though not involved in this study, the DRC has supported dozens of early career scientists by providing funding for novel research. These studies may lead to new breakthroughs or areas that can continue to be explored more deeply. To learn more about current projects and support these efforts, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

Learn More +

Could Real-Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring Reduce Incidences of Hypoglycemia?

Managing type 1 diabetes can be tricky. Many people rely on self-monitoring throughout the day by periodically testing their blood sugar and administering the proper dose of insulin as needed. Individuals with T1D often inject themselves with insulin multiple times per day. However, food, beverages, physical activity, illness, and other factors can all impact blood sugar levels making them more difficult to effectively manage.

But with advances in technology, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices are now available to help those with T1D track and manage their blood sugar. These devices have a tiny sensor that is inserted under the skin which automatically measures blood glucose levels and transmits the information to a monitoring device. The system can also alert when blood sugar becomes too high or falls below a specified level allowing individuals to respond accordingly.

A recent study conducted across 12 diabetes centers in Germany aimed to determine whether the use of real-time CGM (rtCGM) systems could reduce the number and severity of incidences of hypoglycemia in patients with T1D who had a history of impaired hypoglycemia awareness or severe hypoglycemia within the previous 12 months. The study involved 149 participants, and 141 successfully completed the trial in its entirety.

All participants wore a masked rtCGM system for 28 days before being randomly assigned to one of two groups: the first group wore an unmasked rtCGM system for the next 26 weeks, and the second group was a control group that self-monitored blood glucose levels during this time. The results of the study found that the group that wore the rtCGM system had a 72% decrease in the number of hypoglycemic events (10.8 to 3.5 per 28 days), while the control group saw no significant reduction (14.4 to 13.7 per 28 days). Therefore, the rtCGM system was able to reduce the number of hypoglycemic events that occurred in individuals with a history of severe hypoglycemia or impaired hypoglycemia awareness.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is encouraged to see the difference these types of devices can make in the lives of individuals living with type 1 diabetes. It is through innovative research studies and technology development that these advances are possible. The DRC supports early career scientists in pursuing novel research geared toward diagnosing, treating, or curing T1D, as well as improving quality of life for those living with the disease. Learn more about the incredible projects that are taking place and find out how you can be a part of supporting these initiatives by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

Learn More +

Key Control Factor in Regulating Blood Glucose Level Identified

Despite years of research, type 1 diabetes remains a complex disease without a definitive cure. However, researchers continue to make new discoveries in how the disease develops and impacts the body. This allows for more targeted approaches to treatment. One such recent discovery is pinpointing the mechanism that is believed to be primarily responsible for controlling blood glucose levels in humans.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida have released a study that identifies pancreatic islets as the main control function. Though glucose homeostasis involves the liver, hypothalamus, and pancreas, it is the pancreatic islets which release hormones and insulin that appear to have the most influence in regulation.

Different animals have their own set point of what is a normal blood glucose range, including humans. The researchers transplanted pancreatic islets from different animals into mice with and without diabetes. According to Principal Investigator Per-Olof Berggren, a professor at the Rolf Luft Research Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, “We found that the engrafted islets transferred the glycemic levels of the donor species. This indicates that the pancreatic islets have the overall responsibility for maintaining normal blood glucose levels, making them the ‘glucostat’ in our bodies.”

Human pancreatic islets contain cells that release the hormone glucagon which regulates insulin-producing cells. This is an important discovery when it comes to developing treatment approaches because scientists may find that including these hormone-producing cells in addition to insulin-producing cells when creating artificial islets could be beneficial in better-regulating blood glucose levels.

It is these types of discoveries that enable researchers to develop more advanced and effective options for treating and potentially curing type 1 diabetes. The Diabetes Research Connection supports early career scientists in pursuing novel research projects aimed at diagnosing and treating type 1 diabetes as well as improving quality of life for individuals living with the disease. To learn more about their innovative research and contribute to its advancement, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

Learn More +


See our approved research projects and campaigns.

Role of the integrated stress response in type 1 diabetes pathogenesis
In individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the insulin-producing beta cells are spontaneously destroyed by their own immune system. The trigger that provokes the immune system to destroy the beta cells is unknown. However, accumulating evidence suggest that signals are perhaps first sent out by the stressed beta cells that eventually attracts the immune cells. Stressed cells adapt different stress mitigation systems as an adaptive response. However, when these adaptive responses go awry, it results in cell death. One of the stress response mechanisms, namely the integrated stress response (ISR) is activated under a variety of stressful stimuli to promote cell survival. However, when ISR is chronically activated, it can be damaging to the cells and can lead to cell death. The role of the ISR in the context of T1D is unknown. Therefore, in this DRC funded study, we propose to study the ISR in the beta cells to determine its role in propagating T1D.
Wearable Skin Fluorescence Imaging Patch for the Detection of Blood Glucose Level on an Engineered Skin Platform
A Potential Second Cure for T1D by Re-Educating the Patient’s Immune System
L Ferreira
Validating the Hypothesis to Cure T1D by Eliminating the Rejection of Cells From Another Person by Farming Beta Cells From a Patient’s Own Stem Cells
Han Zhu
Taming a Particularly Lethal Category of Cells May Reduce/Eliminate the Onset of T1D
JRDwyer 2022 Lab 1
Can the Inhibition of One Specific Body Gene Prevent Type 1 Diabetes?
Is Cholesterol Exacerbating T1D by Reducing the Functionality and Regeneration Ability of Residual Beta Cells?
Regeneration Ability of Residual Beta Cells
A Call to Question… Is T1D Caused by Dysfunctionality of Two Pancreatic Cells (β and α)?
Xin Tong
Novel therapy initiative with potential path to preventing T1D by targeting TWO components of T1D development (autoimmune response and beta-cell survival)
flavia pecanha