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Diabetes and Pandemic

A Rise in New Type 1 Diabetes Cases Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has hit many countries around the world very hard, with millions of people being diagnosed with COVID-19. At the same time, researchers have also found that new cases of type 1 diabetes (T1D) have also grown. Though there is no definitive link between COVID-19 and T1D, scientists do know that in some cases, the virus may contribute to increased beta cell damage. Diabetes occurs when insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are damaged or destroyed.

A small study in England found that the number of new cases of T1D at two of its five Pediatric Diabetes Network locations increased by 80 percent in April and May. Over the past five years, these two locations diagnosed an average of two and four new cases respectively during those two months, whereas this year, they have each diagnosed 10 new cases. Across the five sites, 30 children and teenagers (all under age 17) were diagnosed with T1D, and 21 of these individuals experienced diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Out of those 21 cases, 11 were considered severe, and 12 children experienced clinical shock resulting in four being admitted to pediatric intensive care units.

Although only two of the children tested positive for COVID-19 when admitted to the hospital, another 3 tested positive for antibodies meaning they had been previously exposed to the virus.

England is not the only country that has seen an increase in new T1D cases either. Studies in China and Italy both showed that since the pandemic started, they have seen more children than usual being diagnosed with T1D. There was no distinct tie between COVID-19 infections and diabetes in these countries either.

Additional research is needed to determine whether COVID-19 may play a role in T1D risk. There is still a lot about the virus that researchers do not know, and they are still exploring its short- and long-term effects on health. The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), though not involved in this study, is committed to advancing research around type 1 diabetes and provides critical funding to early-career scientists. Learn more about current projects and how you can help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Infancy Diabetes Risk

Predicting Diabetes Risk in Infancy

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic condition that often develops in early childhood, though it can present later in life for some. Researchers believe that it stems from a variety genetic and environmental risk factors. Oftentimes individuals do not realize they have T1D until they experience an episode of hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis. These are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions that must be treated immediately.

Recognizing risk factors early on can help doctors to be proactive and better manage children’s health to reduce complications. A recent study from The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) involved 7,798 children from around the world who were identified as being at high risk of developing T1D. The study followed them for nine years, starting at birth, and assigned participants a risk score based on “genetics, clinical factors such as family history of diabetes, and their count of islet autoantibodies – biomarkers known to be implicated in type 1 diabetes.”

This approach improved newborn screenings and the ability to predict the development of T1D. In addition, it allowed doctors to educate families about the disease early on. By more accurately assessing risk, researchers can target clinical trials for preventing the disease to those children who may benefit most. Early detection also allows for improved treatment and management of the disease from the start, which may reduce complications.

Recognizing risk of type 1 diabetes and developing effective prevention strategies is essential. Researchers are continually advancing their knowledge and testing different therapies and approaches to slow or stop T1D. This is an exciting step forward in prevention and treatment efforts. The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how this study could influence diabetes management.

Research across all stages of the disease is critical. The DRC empowers early-career scientists to pursue novel, peer-reviewed research studies focused on type 1 diabetes by providing key funding. One hundred percent of research funds go directly to the scientists. To learn more about current projects and how to help, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Diabetes And Digestive Problems

Those With Diabetes And Digestive Problems May Be Suffering From Gastroparesis

Diabetes and digestive problems can go hand-in-hand, but symptoms should not be ignored. A telltale sign of type 1 diabetes is high blood sugar, and this is one of the leading causes of gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying. Some symptoms of gastroparesis include bloating, pain after eating, heartburn, and nausea or vomiting.

Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to nerve damage affecting how well the stomach muscles contract and release. It is this motion that pushes food through the stomach and intestines. If this process is not working effectively, the stomach is not fully empty, and food can remain there for long periods of time, causing discomfort. In addition, gastroparesis can affect how well the body absorbs nutrients from various foods and contribute to malnutrition.

To help prevent gastroparesis, diabetes should be managed as effectively as possible to control blood sugar levels and keep them within the target range. To aid with digestion, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and eat several small meals rather than two or three large ones. Limiting fat and fiber consumption can also promote improved stomach emptying, which can reduce discomfort. In addition, engaging in regular exercise not only helps with managing blood sugar, but it can also support digestion.

Diabetes and digestive problems are both conditions that can be managed to reduce the risk of developing gastroparesis. Patients should talk to their doctor about any symptoms they experience and how to improve their diet to support proper digestion and nutrition.

The gastroparesis-diabetes connection is one that is recognized by scientists and something that patients should be aware of. Researchers continue to study these types of conditions to learn more about how they affect diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and quality of life.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) supports diverse research initiatives related to type 1 diabetes by providing critical funding to early-career scientists. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

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Pancreatic Cells

Wisp1 is a Circulating Factor that Stimulates Proliferation of Adult Mouse and Human Beta Cells

The destruction of insulin-producing beta-cells is a known cause of type 1 diabetes. Still, researchers continue to investigate exactly what triggers this cell death and how to control or reverse it. In addition, they have been searching for an effective way to reintroduce or restimulate the production of pancreatic cells with long-term survival rates, a challenging undertaking.

One component of this task is understanding how and when beta cells replicate. A recent study found that Wisp1, a matricellular protein that is part of the CCN protein family, may play an important role. This protein is found in higher levels in pre-weaning mice than adult mice, and the same is true in humans, where Wisp1 is more abundant in young children than in adults. It is especially prevalent in bone tissue.

Scientists have found that beta cell replication is most active in the early postnatal weeks and declines with age. After introducing serum Wisp1 in adult mice as well as human islets, beta-cell proliferation increased. In addition, Akt levels also increased. Akt activation is known to play a role in insulin/IGF signaling, contributing to beta-cell growth regulation. There is a potential that Wisp1 and Akt may work synergistically in the body when it comes to proliferating beta cells.

It is important to note that the study did not find a direct correlation between the circulation of Wisp1 and pancreatic cells’ production. Researchers note that, “Our study identifies Wisp1 as a circulating protein that is abundant in young blood and induces proliferation of adult beta cells, thus revealing Wisp1 as an agent with potential therapeutic use to expand beta beta-cell in diabetes.”

Additional research is needed to determine how circulating factors may potentially be used as therapeutic agents when it comes to beta-cell proliferation and the treatment of diabetes. This study opens doors to new research opportunities.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested in seeing how Wisp1 may impact future studies regarding type 1 diabetes treatment. To support the advancement of diabetes-related research, the DRC provides funding to early-career scientists so that they may pursue innovative peer-reviewed projects. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

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Pancreatic Islet Cells

Advances in Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation

Currently, the most effective method for managing type 1 diabetes is regularly testing blood sugar levels and administering insulin. However, this can be hard on patients and on their bodies, and it does not control type 1 diabetes (T1D) as well as the pancreas does naturally on its own. But in individuals with T1D, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells produced by the pancreas, which is why insulin injections are necessary.

Researchers have been testing methods of transplanting pancreatic islet cells into patients with T1D in an effort to replicate or restimulate the body’s natural process for managing blood sugar. One of the challenges that they have faced is keeping transplanted cells alive and functioning for more than a few days or possibly weeks. They often do not establish the proper vascularization or oxygenation necessary for survival. In some cases, they are once again attacked and destroyed by the immune system.

A recent study shows encouraging results when it comes to islet cell transplantation, however. Rather than transplanting the cells into or near the liver, scientists placed them under the skin. The islets were encapsulated in a collagen-based matrix that provided a layer of protection while also improving the amount of oxygen the cells received. Scientists are not entirely sure why this process works, but it has shown positive results in mouse models.

One hundred mice whose pancreases had been removed were transplanted with collagen-encased islet cells from mice, pigs, and humans. Results showed that the mice did not require insulin injections to control blood sugar levels for up to 100 days. It is important to note that tests in mouse models do not always translate exactly the same in human models. Scientists do not yet know if humans would experience the same response to this approach. More testing is needed.

But it is a step in the right direction toward improving diabetes management and stimulating a more natural and effective process. Though not involved with this particular study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to advancing understanding and treatment of the disease by providing critical funding to early career scientists. One hundred percent of donations go directly to researchers and their projects. Learn more and find out how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Increased Risk of Illness Severity and Hospitalization from COVID-19 in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Increased Risk of Illness Severity and Hospitalization from COVID-19 in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Members of the DRC Family,

The attached article, to be published in print in Diabetes Care, concludes type 1 (and type 2) diabetes, independently increase the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

Potentially modifiable factors (e.g., HbA1c) had a significant, but modest, impact compared with comparatively static factors (e.g., race and insurance) in type 1 diabetes, indicating an urgent and continued need to mitigate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection risk in our community.

We encourage you to discuss, with your health care provider, prioritizing vaccination of family members who have diabetes. These statistics are compelling.

Wishing you the best of health,

DW Sig.

David Winkler
Chair, Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer, Diabetes Research Connection


Please Click HERE To View the Full Article

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Islet Cells

Improvements for the Islet Cell Transplant are Achieved with the Fusion of Islet Cells and Functional Blood Vessels

One area of research that scientists have focused on treating and potentially curing type 1 diabetes is islet cell transplant. Introducing new insulin-producing islet cells into the body aims to stimulate these cells’ continued production and survival to achieve normoglycemia.

However, a major challenge is ensuring proper revascularization of islet cells. Without this vascularization and the exchange of blood and oxygen, the cells die. Up to this point, scientists have struggled to create these vascular networks quickly enough to make islet cell transplant a viable and lasting option.

recent study seeks to overcome this obstacle by prevascularizing islet organoids before transplanting them. Rather than combining pancreatic islet cells (PI) with epithelial and endothelial cells alone, scientists paired them with microvascular fragments or MVF. The PI cells are combined with MVF, then covered in a liquid overlay, and cultivated for five days.

As a result, the islet organoids form a dense microvascular network that, when transplanted into diabetic mice, can quickly attach to existing vascular structures. Therefore, the islet organoid improves not only its vascularization but its viability and functionality as well. In mouse models, normoglycemia was restored within just seven days following transplant. Transplanting freshly isolated islets alone without MVF did not produce these same results.

This improved vascularization may help reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and hypoxic stress. High levels of hypoxic stress can reduce cell viability and function. Due to the rapid vascular connections made by prevascularizing the islet organoids, there is less cellular stress and risk of cell death.

This study marks a notable advancement in islet cell transplant potential. More research needs to be done when it comes to the viability of quickly producing uniform prevascularized islet organoids and assessing their performance in human tissue. But it is a step in the right direction toward achieving long-term normoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes without relying on insulin injections.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested in seeing how this study progresses and what it could mean for the future of islet cell transplant procedures and treating type 1 diabetes. Though not involved with this study, the DRC supports early-career scientists in pursuing novel research around type 1 diabetes by providing critical funding. To learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

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Is Type 1 Diabates Reversible

A Precision Medicine Initiative Has Aided a Case, Answering – Is Type 1 Diabetes Reversible?


*Please be advised that this is not an article stating that any type one diabetic’s diabetes can be reversed. In the case of this article, it is in reference to individuals with the STAT1 gene mutation* 

Upon receiving a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, a common question comes to mind for many patients and families: is type 1 diabetes reversible? Until now, the answer has been no. Several treatment options can be used to effectively manage the disease and keep blood sugar levels in check, but no solution that supports long-term independence from insulin.

That could be changing for some patients through a precision medicine initiative.

Typically, treatments are designed for the average patient who fits a general profile of a disease. It tends to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. But with precision medicine, treatment is tailored to specific subgroups that don’t fit the ‘average’ mold. It takes into consideration differences in genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

recent study found that there is the potential that type 1 diabetes is reversible, at least in some cases. A precision medicine initiative tailored treatment for a 17-year-old male who had both T1D and recurrent respiratory infections. Researchers found that the patient had a genetic mutation in the STAT1 gene. When STAT1 protein activity is elevated, it is known to contribute to autoimmune disorders and respiratory infections.

The patient was treated with ruxolitinib, a therapy that inhibits Jak/STAT signaling. After undergoing precision medicine treatment for a year using ruxolitinib, he no longer required daily insulin injections in order to control his blood sugar levels. His body was able to maintain normal levels on its own.

Since this is a single case and there is not yet any long-term data available regarding whether the treatment will continue to work, researchers cannot, however, definitively answer the question of “is type 1 diabetes reversible?” But at this moment, for this patient, the answer is yes.

According to Dr. Sophia Ebenezer, a lead author on the study and assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology at Baylor and Texas Children’s, “The patient no longer needs daily insulin injections and has shown full remission of other clinical signs of T1D along with marked improvements in his quality of life.”

This study opens doors to treating other patients with STAT1 gene mutations with ruxolitinib therapy in an effort to reverse type 1 diabetes. It also emphasizes the ability of precision medicine initiatives to revolutionize healthcare. No two patients are the same, and differentiation among treatment can impact outcomes for the better.

The Diabetes Research Connection, though not involved with this study, is committed to helping advance understanding and treatment of type 1 diabetes. Early-career scientists receive critical funding to support novel, peer-reviewed studies focused on the disease. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

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Determining the Impact of COVID-19 and Diabetes on One Another

Determining the Impact of COVID-19 and Diabetes on One Another

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, scientists from around the world have been conducting studies and analyzing data to better understand how the virus impacts humans and what may make some people more susceptible to severe infection or complications than others. While there is still a lot about the virus that scientists don’t yet understand, there have been some interesting findings from current data, including regarding diabetes and COVID-19.

In general, researchers know that individuals with comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and chronic kidney disease (CKD) tend to have higher risk of developing complications and requiring hospital or ICU admission and mechanical ventilator use. They also tend to have a greater risk of mortality.

There have been a lot of interesting findings emerging regarding race and ethnicity when it comes to COVID-19. Hispanic, Black, and American Indian populations have been disproportionately affected by the virus, but it is still unclear why these disparities exist. Furthermore, although these populations have higher rates of contracting the virus, they do not demonstrate higher risk of severe infection requiring mechanical ventilation or resulting in mortality. Obesity, diabetes, and CVD do exist within these groups, which are general comorbidities across the general population, not specific to race or ethnicity.

When it comes to diabetes, many of the studies that have been conducted so far have not demonstrated a significant difference in terms of diabetes type and outcomes. Individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes both face risk of complications and poorer outcomes. Having poor glycemic control can increase risk of mortality, and it was shown to induce hyperglycemia in both patients with and without pre-existing diabetes.

Scientists have also found many overlaps between COVID-19 and diabetes. For example, having comorbidities puts individuals at greater risk of complications, and due to the nature of diabetes, patients who are diabetic tend to struggle with obesity, CVD, CKD and hypertension, which are all risk factors for COVID-19 complications. It can be a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, there have not been many large studies regarding pediatric patients with diabetes and COVID-19, but the studies that exist show that obesity, diabetes, and congenital heart disease all put pediatric patients at greater risk.

Researchers are taking a closer look at the role of viral infection load on cell death, inflammatory cytokine production, and immune response as well, especially as it relates to diabetes. COVID-19 is believed to increase cytokine levels, which in turn can increase risk of multi-organ failure, hyperglycemia, and tissue injury. Diabetes also leads to inflammation, poor glycemic control, and multi-tissue injury. These similarities between conditions can exacerbate complications in individuals with both diabetes and COVID-19. Plus, some studies have shown that COVID-19 may actually trigger new onset type 1 diabetes as a result of damage to beta cells.

Since COVID-19 has only been around for less than a year, it is difficult for scientists to accurately predict any long-term effects. However, they believe that it could aggravate pre-existing CVD or induce new cardiac pathology that may have lasting effects. In addition, due to the overlapping pathology of COVID-19, diabetes, and pre-existing comorbidities, that may put patients with diabetes at greater risk of complications in the future, even after recovery from active infection.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to supporting research not just for diabetes and COVID-19, but for type 1 diabetes in general. The organization ensures that researchers receive necessary funding to carry out their projects and make meaningful contributions to the body of work that exists around T1D. These studies can help to improve diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease, as well as improve quality of life and reduce risk of complications. To learn more about current projects and how to help, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Reducing the Need for Systemic Immunosuppression for Islet Grafts

Reducing the Need for Systemic Immunosuppression for Islet Grafts

One of the approaches scientists have been testing for reversing or better controlling type 1 diabetes is the use of allogeneic pancreatic islet transplants. By reintroducing healthy insulin-producing islets, they aim to support the body in naturally regulating and stimulating insulin production to manage blood glucose levels.

A major challenge to this technique, however, is the immune system’s rejection of the graft following transplantation. As with organ transplants, scientists were forced to suppress the immune response in order to keep cells from attacking and destroying the islets. But immunosuppression is not a long-term solution for islet graft transplantation because the potential risks and health effects can outweigh the benefits.

In a recent study, scientists explored the possibility of controlling a localized immune response rather than a systemic one. They designed a synthetic platform that contains microgel made of biomaterials that can deliver checkpoint proteins to regulate cell death.  They used a chemeric streptavidin/programmed cell death-1 (SA-PD-L1) protein. In addition to this protein, they added a short, two-week administration of rapamycin to help the body adjust to the transplant while curbing rejection risk. This approach enabled sustained survival of allogeneic islet grafts without the need for chronic systemic immunosuppression.

These results demonstrate the potential benefits of using synthetic microgels in combination with immunomodulatory ligands and specific antibodies to manage immune response to allogeneic pancreatic islet grafts. While additional research is needed, this is a step toward improving therapeutic modalities for treating or potentially reversing type 1 diabetes.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how this study influences future work on islet transplantation as an option for managing type 1 diabetes. The DRC is committed to advancing research within the field through providing critical funding to early career scientists pursing novel research studies focused on all aspects of type 1 diabetes. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://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