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

Golimumab and Beta Cells

Golimumab May Help Preserve Beta-Cell Function Related to Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. This leaves the body unable to regulate blood sugar levels on its own effectively and requires individuals to administer insulin throughout the day. T1D is one of many autoimmune disorders that affect children and adults.

recent study found that a drug already approved by the FDA to treat other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and ulcerative colitis, may also be effective in treating T1D. Though it is not a cure, it may help preserve existing pancreatic beta-cell function in newly diagnosed patients and reduce the amount of external insulin needed to manage blood glucose levels.

The medication, known as golimumab, is a human monoclonal antibody that blocks a protein involved in abnormal inflammatory and immune responses. Researchers administered the medication every two weeks for 52 weeks to a group of 56 children and young adults between the ages of 6 and 21. Another 28 participants received a placebo. All participants were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and were free from other autoimmune diseases.

Throughout the year, each participant kept a record of how much insulin they used each day, what their blood glucose level was, and if they had any occurrences of hypoglycemia. At the end of the trial, the results showed that the children and young adults who received golimumab had higher 4-hour C-peptide AUC levels than those in the control group (0.64 vs. 0.43). This means that those receiving the medication produced more natural insulin (endogenous insulin) than those who received the placebo and required less insulin therapy.

There can be advantages to requiring lower doses of insulin, making golimumab attractive to some individuals with T1D. Though still undergoing clinical testing to treat type 1 diabetes, the medication may become one more option for patients to help them better manage their health.

Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how future clinical trials play out and whether golimumab is approved as a therapeutic agent for type 1 diabetes. The DRC is committed to improving understanding, treatment, and management of the disease and finding a cure one day. Learn more about how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

Please DONATE NOW so DRC can keep bringing you credible, peer-reviewed T1D news and research.

Thank you

Learn More +
Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

Using Umbilical Cord Stem Cells to Treat Type 1 Diabetes, COVID-19

Autoimmune diseases wreak havoc on the body and can be challenging to treat. They can cause severe inflammation and even cell death, as with type 1 diabetes (T1D). But researchers are striving to develop more effective therapies to manage and treat these conditions.

One approach that has shown positive results in early testing is the use of umbilical cord stem cells. A recent study by a team at the Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that these cells may be beneficial in treating individuals with T1D and promoting recovery in patients with severe COVID-19.

The FDA has already approved this stem-cell therapy for testing as a potential treatment for T1D, which requires more targeted administration to ensure that cells are directed to the pancreas. These cells may help to calm the body’s hyperinflammatory immune response. Due to umbilical cord cells’ anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory effects, they may also be effective in treating COVID-19 and could be administered easily through a blood transfusion.

The researchers administered two infusions of 100 million umbilical cord stem cells three days apart to 12 patients with severe COVID-19, while another 12 patients with the disease received a placebo IV. Of those treated with the stem cells, there was a 91% overall survival rate and a 100% survival rate of patients under age 85. The survival rate in the control group was 42%. In addition, more than 80% of patients who received stem cells recovered within 30 days, while less than 37% in the control group did.

Following these promising results, the researchers are now looking to conduct a larger trial to see if the treatment generates the same results on a larger scale. If so, umbilical cord stem cells may become one option for treating COVID-19. According to the study, “one umbilical cord recovered from a healthy newborn can generate more than 10,000 therapeutic doses.” Studies will also be done to better understand the stem cells’ effect on other autoimmune diseases such as T1D.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to continue following these developments to see whether umbilical cord stem cells could be a viable therapeutic treatment option, especially when it comes to T1D or potential patients with T1D and COVID-19 who are at higher risk for complications.

The DRC is committed to improving understanding of T1D, enhancing treatment and prevention options, as well as finding a cure. The organization supports early-career scientists in pursuing novel, peer-reviewed studies related to type 1 diabetes by providing critical funding for their research. Find out more at https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

Please DONATE NOW so DRC can keep bringing you credible, peer-reviewed T1D news and research.

Thank you

Learn More +
Gene Expression

Advanced Understanding of Gene Expression May Improve Treatment of Multiple Autoimmune Diseases Including Type 1 Diabetes

The immune system is a central part of the human body. When autoimmune diseases develop, they can cause the immune system to begin attacking itself, taking a toll on individuals’ health. Numerous different autoimmune diseases exist, and currently, many have no cure.

However, a recent study examined commonalities between four of the most severe autoimmune diseases and changes that occur within the body. By developing a better understanding of where there are similarities, researchers may be able to apply what they already know about one disease to another. The four autoimmune diseases that were studied were type 1 diabetes (T1D), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis (MS), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Researchers found that all of these diseases have common pattern disease risk, local inflammation, and up-regulation and down-regulation of gene expression. In addition, rather than only looking at how the immune system was affected, the researchers also studied the impact on target tissues. Their findings showed that in many instances, the immune system and these tissues engaged in a dialog that contributed to the effects of each disease and cell damage. There were a significant number of candidate genes that were expressed in target tissues as well.

There was a lot of overlap between up-regulated expression patterns, whereas down-regulated expression appeared to be more specific to the target tissue. Close attention was also paid to which pathways were affected for each disease. The researchers note that “The observed similarities in pathway activation between target tissues were translated into the identification of several classes of drugs that could be potentially used to treat more than one autoimmune disease.”

This could allow scientists to repurpose drugs that are well understood to treat one disease to be used to treat another disease. For instance, JAK inhibitors are approved for the treatment of RA, but they are also showing promising results for treating SLE, and they are known to “prevent the proinflammatory and proapoptotic effects of IFN-α on human pancreatic β cells,” which is a trademark of T1D. JAK inhibitors may also effectively treat insulitis, though current studies have been on nonobese diabetic mice.

The study found that one candidate gene in particular – TYK2 – was present in all four autoimmune diseases when it comes to gene expression. There is currently a phase 3 clinical trial underway for a TYK inhibitor to treat psoriasis, another autoimmune disease. TYK inhibitors demonstrate a protective factor over human β cells, so the clinical trial may provide valuable information related to future treatment of T1D as well.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see how this study may impact future research and the potential repurposing of existing drugs to treat other autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Advancing research and understanding of T1D is integral to one day finding a cure. To support these efforts, the DRC provides critical funding to early-career scientists pursuing novel research related to T1D. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

Please DONATE NOW so DRC can keep bringing you credible, peer-reviewed T1D news and research.

Thank you

Learn More +
Diabetes Health

The Pandemic ‘COVID-19’ Exacerbates Diabetes Health Challenges for Individuals Living with The Disease

Although the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all Americans’ lives, it has been especially challenging for individuals with chronic conditions such as type 1 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 122 million people in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Access to healthcare, health insurance, medication/medical supplies, and nutritious food is critical, yet many of these people struggle in these areas.

As the pandemic has inundated the United States, it has presented significant hardships for individuals living with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and pre-diabetes. A recent study conducted by the American Diabetes Association in partnership with Thrivable and the Diabetes Daily community shows just how profound the impact has been on this population. 

With the loss of jobs, insurance coverage, and income, many individuals have difficulty paying for necessary medications and medical supplies to manage their diabetes health. They are struggling with food insecurity, unable to access the type and quantity of food needed to keep their blood sugar under control. They have delayed medical appointments because they do not have insurance coverage or are scared about potential exposure to COVID-19.

All of these circumstances can put their diabetes health at risk. Being unable to manage their diabetes now effectively can have a lasting impact in the future. It also puts individuals at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 should they contract the virus. Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, notes that “as many as 40 percent of the COVID fatalities – 120,000 Americans – have been people with diabetes.”

Of those surveyed, 43% have delayed routine medical care for fear of exposure to the virus, and 15% of those with continuous glucose monitors (CGM) or insulin pumps have put off refilling their supplies, with 70% reporting that it is due to financial hardships. Twelve percent of respondents have lost their health insurance since the start of the pandemic, and of those, 13% continue to be uninsured.

Access to food is another major problem. Facing financial constraints, many people have had to rely on food banks for food. Options there are limited and not always the most effective for managing diabetes. The study found that “1 in 5 say they aren’t able to eat as frequently as they need to manage their diabetes effectively,” and nearly as many said they have been forced to choose between buying food and buying medical supplies or medications for their diabetes.

On a positive note, many individuals with diabetes (37%) are open to getting the vaccine immediately once it becomes available to them. In addition, there has been a drastic increase in the number of individuals with diabetes using telemedicine as a way to help manage their health. However, this does not negate the serious challenges this pandemic has presented and the fact that the effects could last for years to come. In turn, this could strain the healthcare system in the future.

Researchers continue to learn more about COVID-19 every day, and more work is being done to understand its impact on at-risk populations such as those with type 1 diabetes. The Diabetes Research Connection, though not involved with this study, is committed to providing critical funding for early-career scientists pursuing projects related to type 1 diabetes. These efforts drive work toward improving diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of the disease, enhancing the quality of life, and moving closer to a cure. To learn more about current projects or support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org

Please DONATE NOW so DRC can keep bringing you credible, peer-reviewed T1D news and research.

Thank you

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