DRC & Research News

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

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Tips for Insulin Injection Site Rotation

Could Higher-Dose and Lower-Dose Insulin Glargine be Equally Effective in Managing Type 1 Diabetes?

In an effort to maintain greater blood-glucose stability throughout the day and minimize highs and lows, some individuals with type 1 diabetes use insulin glargine, which is a once-a-day, long-acting insulin. It is an analogue, or laboratory-created, insulin which has been modified to act more uniformly in managing glucose levels.

Insulin glargine comes in varying strengths, and a recent study found that there were no significant differences in safety or effectiveness between insulin glargine 100 U/mL and insulin glargine 300 U/mL when administered in children and adolescents. Data from 463 EDITION JUNIOR study participants between the ages of 6 and 17 were compared over 26 weeks. Of those participants, 233 were randomly assigned to insulin glargine 300 U/mL, and 228 were randomly assigned to insulin glargine 100 U/mL. Both groups continued to follow their normal routine for mealtime insulin but injected insulin glargine once per day.

Results showed that all participants experienced a reduction in HbA1c levels over the 26 weeks. However, there were fewer instances of severe hypoglycemia among participants using the insulin glargine 300 U/mL, though overall, results were comparable between groups. Both insulins were effective in achieving target study endpoints and did not demonstrate any unexpected safety concerns.

In comparing insulin glargine 100 U/mL and insulin glargine 300 U/mL, researchers may be able to use insulin glargine 300 U/mL as yet another treatment option for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. It is currently under review by the FDA, and researchers are evaluating data from a six-month safety follow-up.

It is encouraging to see that more options are being explored to meet the needs of individuals living with type 1 diabetes in order to maintain target glucose levels with fewer fluctuations. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) will continue to follow these types of studies to see how they impact the future of diabetes management and accessibility to care.

DRC provides critical funding for early career scientists pursuing novel, peer-reviewed research studies for type 1 diabetes. Projects aim to improve prevention and treatment of the disease, as well as enhance quality of life and eventually find a cure. To learn more about current studies and support these efforts, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Advancements in Characterizing Type 1 Diabetes Heterogeneity

No two people with type 1 diabetes are exactly the same. Each experiences disease progression differently, and the genetic and biological factors that impact this process differ as well. This can make understanding how type 1 diabetes initially develops and the risk factors involved more challenging.

A recent study examined islet autoimmunity and heterogeneity across a group of 80 individuals diagnosed with juvenile-onset type 1 diabetes. Some had only been recently diagnosed while others had been living with the disease for many years. The study evaluated immunological, genetic, and clinical differences between individuals in order to create more detailed profiles and stratify findings.

Blood samples were taken and testing conducted to determine T-cell response to various beta cell antigens including GAD65, islet antigen-2 (IA-2), preproinsulin (PPI), and defective ribosomal product of the insulin gene (INS-DRIP). Results show that some individuals were high responders showing T-cell proliferation for all four beta cell antigens, some were intermediate responders showing proliferation to one to three beta cell antigens, and the rest were non-responders who did not show any T-cell proliferation response to the tested beta cell antigens.

In addition, more than 80 percent of participants were categorized as high risk by having an HLA-DR-DQ genotype that is associated with development of type 1 diabetes. High responders also had higher non-HLA genetic risk scores than the other two groups. Another interesting finding was that individuals who had longer disease durations also showed an increase in beta cell-specific T-cell proliferation.

Though a larger study is needed to further build out full immunological heterogeneity and explore the interactions between different variables, this study is a strong starting point. Better understanding the complete profile of individuals with type 1 diabetes and how their body responds to different factors could lead to more individualized treatment to help manage the disease. Researchers can tailor treatment toward which beta cell antigens a person responds to, whether they or not they have high HLA-DR-DQ risk or not, as well as other variables.

The body of knowledge surrounding type 1 diabetes is always growing and improving. This is critical to advance prevention and treatment options. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) supports early career scientists in pursuing novel research studies in order to continue moving understanding forward. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Cannabis and Diabetes

Unraveling the Process of Fetal Pancreas Development

Cell replacement therapy has been at the forefront of type 1 diabetes research for many years. Researchers have explored different ways to reintroduce insulin-producing beta cells into the pancreas or stimulate the body to begin producing these cells once again. A major challenge is often rejection of the cells by the body, or limited sustainability due to poor vascularization or an autoimmune response.

However, a recent study looks at the function of human multipotent progenitor cells (hMPCs) during development of the pancreas in human fetuses. Scientists were able to safely recover live cells from fetal tissue during the second trimester of development. They found that hMPCs located within the tip of the epithelium contained both SOX9 ad PTF1A transcription factors. However, according to their research, “tip cells did not express insulin, glucagon, or amylase,” which demonstrated their lack of lineage-specific markers. That means that they were uncommitted cells and could potentially differentiate into any of the three major types of pancreatic cells: ductal, endocrine, or acinar.

The proportion of SOX9+/PTF1A+ cells greatly decreased during the second trimester, however.  They accounted for more than 60% of cells up to 13.5 weeks of gestation, but after that, there was a significant decrease over the following weeks to less than 20%. During the second trimester, hMPCs also begin the process of branching morphogenesis and divide between tip and truck cells.  Truck cells become ductal and endocrine cells, but tip cells become acinar cells.

As researchers gain a deeper understanding of how the pancreas develops and how cell expression and differentiation takes place, they may be able to enhance cell replacement therapy options. According to the study, “This first ‘snapshot’ of the transcriptional network of human pancreatic progenitors opens new avenue in understanding human pancreas development, pancreatic specification and supports our ultimate goal of understanding possible mechanisms for pancreas regeneration.”

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how this research may influence future treatment options for individuals with type 1 diabetes.  By better understanding the pancreas at a cellular level, it could stimulate more advanced therapies. The DRC provides critical funding for novel, peer-reviewed research studies focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and eventual cure for type 1 diabetes. Early career scientists have the opportunity to move forward with their research and contribute to the growing understanding of the disease and treatment options. Learn more and support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Pipeline of Researchers to Cure T1D

Where is the Diabetes Research Connection Heading in 2020?

Our vision is to support innovative scientific inquiry until diabetes is eliminated. Since 2015, we have funded 24 innovative, peer-reviewed type 1 diabetes (T1D) projects and distributed over $1M directly to early-career scientists, building a pipeline of talented T1D researchers. 100% of funds designated for research go directly to the scientists’ lab and we are committed to continuing this in 2020.

Our main initiative in 2020, and the next decade, is to establish a foundation of sustainable funding. Two new ways we hope to accomplish it are:

  1. Blue Circle Leaders: Our current Blue Circle Leader Community includes 10 families who have pledged consistent support of our mission and vision. There are varying levels of partnership and all help us build a pipeline of new T1D researchers. As a Blue Circle Leader, you will have access to exclusive opportunities and resources. Read more about becoming a Blue Circle Leader here.
  2. Name a Research Project: Name an entire Research Project after your family, foundation or loved one affected by T1D. Funding an entire grant gives you exclusive access to the researcher for individual updates about the progress of their project and recognition in all published materials.

For a summary of the accomplishments in 2019, click here. We believe it takes a community to connect for a cure and together we make the difference!

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20199 Year in Review

2019 Year in Review

With the generosity of our supporters, we funded seven innovative, peer-reviewed type 1 diabetes (T1D) projects, bringing the total to 24, and have several others in the pipeline that will go live on our website in early 2020. We are incredibly proud to share that one of our sponsored early-career scientists, Peter Thompson, Ph.D., is starting his own lab in Canada to further develop a significant breakthrough that may prevent T1D.

One of our new Scientific Review Committee (SRC) members, Holger Russ, Ph.D., from the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado shared a note that sums up the past year for us, “Congratulations on the record number of submissions, word is spreading, attesting to your great work funding important projects driven by junior investigators in the T1D space.”

Our 225 supporters partner with us in giving of their time, energy and resources and we couldn’t be more grateful for everything they gave in 2019. Our 10 Blue Circle Members, including the first-ever named research project funded by the Tarson Family, joined us this past year to ensure sustainable funding for DRC.

Below are some highlights from 2019:

In January, A Sweet Life: The Diabetes Magazine, recognized one of our new projects as one of the 6 Diabetes Research Studies to Watch in 2019, Marika Bogdani, MD, Ph.D., of the Benaroya Research Institute’s project, “Offensive ‘Blocking’ to Defeat T1D Before it Strikes!” This project seeks to uncover changes taking place in human islets that will indicate how to block diabetes before at-risk patients begin to exhibit symptoms.

Several of our partners hosted fundraisers in March. ‘Harrigan’s Hooligans against Diabetes’ hosted a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser in Chicago at an Irish pub and one of our favorite local Italian restaurants, Il Fornaio, gave back a portion of sales from one evening to support new T1D research.

We hosted our first ever Ladies Night in April. Women gathered to share their stories of life with or caring for someone with T1D. “I left that night with fresh hope in finding a cure and new energy to work together to achieve this.”

In May, the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation hosted a “Meet the Researchers” event where Peter Thompson, Ph.D., shared an exciting update about the research he’s been doing and the possibility of finding a way to prevent T1D.

In June, Youjia Hu, Ph.D., at the Yale University Diabetes Center, provided an update for his project, A Bacteria in the Gut May Predict T1D. “Our results not only support the recent findings by other investigators using fecal samples but also our results support our hypothesis that oral microbiota might be used as a predictive biomarker for human T1D. We are currently further analyzing the sequencing data (~3 million) and we are confident that we will have interesting findings in the next progress report.”

In July, we funded several new projects: A Safe and Cost-Effective Stem Cell Approach for Treating Diabetes, Haisong Liu, Ph.D., at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Looking Beyond Beta Cells for Management of T1D, Camila Lubaczeuski, Ph.D. at the University Of Miami; Mice to Men, YongKyung Kim, Ph.D., at the University Of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Barbara Davis Center For Diabetes.

The 2nd annual Del Mar Dance for Diabetes was in September. Over 350 people joined us in connecting for a cure and we raised nearly $400,000! Guests enjoyed the food, music, drinks, silent auction and dancing under the stars at the silent dance party.

In November, we partnered with Tiffany and Philip Rivers in the Change the Game campaign. Tiffany and Philip Rivers’ eldest son, Gunner, was diagnosed with T1D when he was just five years old. The Change the Game campaign raised funds for JDRF, Insulin for Life and DRC and helped raise awareness during National Diabetes Awareness Month.

In December, we completed our $1M research campaign by distributing $1M to new T1D research projects. We had a record number of submissions and will be posting the approved projects on our website soon. Check back to see the innovative projects approved in 2019 by our esteemed SRC. Our Co-Founder and Chair of the Board, David Winkler, spoke at the STEAM Leadership “Diabetes Day” at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The event focused on educating and empowering high school students from San Diego, including Southeastern San Diego, around healthy living and future careers in research. Click here to watch David’s speech.

We are committed to funding innovative scientific inquiry until diabetes is eliminated and could not do what we do without the continued support of our community. Thank you for being a part of the DRC family. It takes a community to connect for a cure!


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Diabetes Researching

Is Cannabis Use Safe for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes?

Cannabis use has been a hot topic in recent years with more states legalizing recreational use in addition to medicinal use. Just like any drug, cannabis has its risks and benefits which can vary from person to person depending on their individual situation.

A recent study looked at how cannabis use may impact individuals with type 1 diabetes in regard to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA occurs when the body does not make enough insulin and ketones build up in the bloodstream due to the breakdown of fats instead of sugars.

The study found that moderate cannabis users with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to develop DKA than non-users. Researchers used data from 932 adults who participate in the T1D Exchange clinic registry (T1DX).

It is important for individuals with T1D to understand the risks associated with using cannabis and how it can potentially affect their overall health and well-being, especially in regard to diabetes management. DKA can develop very quickly and can be potentially fatal if left untreated.

Though not involved in this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) supports early career scientists in pursuing novel research studies to advance understanding of T1D as well as improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.


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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