DRC & Research News

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

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Diabetes Research Microscope

Diabetes Research Connection Celebrates Achievements Amid Year-End Giving Campaign to Fund Type 1 Diabetes Research

Supported by corporate sponsorships, county grants, foundation awards, and a donation of $100,000 in matching funds, DRC pushes to fund more innovative research to find the cause, treatment, and cure for T1D

SAN DIEGO – December 16, 2021 – Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), a 501(c)(3) that funds research projects conducted by early-career researchers aimed at prevention, cure, and better care for those with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), announces significant achievements in 2021 amid its year-end giving campaign. This year, DRC has been supported by corporate sponsorships, county grants, foundation awards, and a $100,000 dollar-for-dollar matching gift from an anonymous donor.

In 2021 alone, DRC will provide seed funding for 16 new T1D research projects, bringing the total to 48 innovative studies by early-career scientists awarded since its founding in 2012. DRC expects to support close to $2M in research by year-end, with six early-career scientists receiving DRC funding going on to secure $8.4M in additional funds for their T1D research.

“DRC is committed to providing seed funding for early-career scientists to demonstrate the viability of their peer-reviewed, innovative T1D research ideas. Data driven outcomes show proof of concept to enable our scientists to pursue follow-on funding, often yielding over $1 million,” shared DRC Co-Founder, David Winkler.

 Corporate partners and financial underwriters are instrumental to DRC’s mission and include:


Leading Sponsors


Sustaining Supporters


Event Sponsors


DRC Senior Director of Development Casey Davis said, “I can’t express enough the importance of our sponsors, and corporate and public underwriters to our mission to eradicate T1D through research. That’s what we mean when we say, ‘It takes a community to connect for a cure’.”

Through their help and that of family foundations and other donors, DRC expects to raise a record $750,000 in 2021, and anticipates it will increase that figure to $1 million in 2022.

“DRC is funding important research to find ways to prevent, better treat, and cure T1D. Donors and partners can also choose specific research projects they want to support. This enables you to see your dollars at work,” said Stephen Korniczky, DRC Board Member and Partner, Sheppard Mullin. “DRC not only supports a noble mission, they have been a wonderful partner as well.  I invite other sponsors and donors to join us in supporting DRC in 2022.”

DRC has additional sponsorships available for 2022 at a variety of levels. In honor of its 10-year anniversary it will be re-launching its annual Dance for Diabetes, and event sponsorships, in Fall 2022.

To donate to DRC and double your impact with a tax-deductible donation click here by December 31, 2021.

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"You're going to have it for the rest of your life."

Imagine: A World without Type 1 Diabetes

Introduction: The Current Reality

Today, millions of people across the globe suffer from Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), a chronic autoimmune condition that significantly impacts their quality of life. Imagine a world where pricking fingers and insulin injections become a thing of the past. Before we get there, let’s take a look at our present reality.

The Burden of Type 1 Diabetes

Living with T1D is a lifelong balancing act. It requires constant monitoring of blood glucose levels, careful meal planning, and regular insulin therapy. But the impact goes beyond the daily routine, often leading to severe health complications if not managed well.

What Type 1 Diabetes Entails

Type 1 Diabetes entails the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, our body cannot regulate blood sugar levels, leading to serious complications like kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and even blindness.

The Journey Towards a Diabetes-Free World

Over the years, scientists have tirelessly sought out solutions to this health crisis. Their efforts have given us a glimpse into a world where Type 1 Diabetes could become a distant memory.

The Role of Technology

In the fight against diabetes, technology plays a pivotal role. But how, you might ask?

Automated Insulin Delivery Systems

Innovative automated insulin delivery systems, or ‘artificial pancreas,’ have significantly improved glucose management. These devices integrate insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring to adjust insulin delivery in real-time, reducing the risk of high and low blood sugar levels.

Artificial Pancreas

The artificial pancreas is an even more revolutionary concept. It promises a closed-loop insulin delivery system that mimics a healthy pancreas, potentially eliminating the need for people with Type 1 Diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels constantly.

The Power of Stem Cell Research

But the breakthroughs don’t stop at technology. Stem cell research has opened up new possibilities for a cure. Scientists are experimenting with turning stem cells into insulin-producing cells, potentially paving the way for a biological cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Vaccine Development

Another promising avenue is the development of a vaccine. Current research focuses on finding a way to stop the immune system from attacking insulin-producing cells, preventing the onset of T1D.

Living in a World without Type 1 Diabetes

As we embark on this journey, let’s explore what a world without T1D might look like.

Health Implications

Enhanced Quality of Life

Firstly, the elimination of T1D would mean a massive improvement in the quality of life for millions. No more daily finger pricks, careful diet monitoring, or the constant anxiety of potential health complications.

Reduced Health Care Costs

A T1D-free world would also lead to significant reductions in health care costs. With the cost of insulin therapy and management equipment taken out of the equation, both individuals and health systems could see substantial savings.

Societal Impact

On a societal level, a world without T1D could mean more productivity and less absenteeism. Children could attend school without fear of sudden glucose level drops, and adults could focus more on their careers and personal lives instead of their disease management.

Conclusion: The Future is Bright

While we are still on the journey to a world without T1D, the future looks bright. The technological innovations, research breakthroughs, and collective will of the world bring us closer to this reality each day. We can look forward to a time when Type 1 Diabetes is but a footnote in medical history books.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes? Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, while Type 2 Diabetes is usually a lifestyle-related condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin.
  2. Is Type 1 Diabetes curable? As of now, there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes. However, it can be managed through a combination of insulin therapy, diet, and exercise.
  3. What would a cure for T1D look like? A cure could take many forms, including a vaccine to prevent the immune system from attacking insulin-producing cells, or a biological cure that involves replacing destroyed cells with new insulin-producing cells.
  4. How close are we to a world without Type 1 Diabetes? While we are making great strides in research and technology, it is hard to predict a timeline. However, the collective efforts of scientists, medical professionals, and advocates worldwide bring us closer to this reality each day.
  5. What can I do to support the fight against T1D?There are several ways to help, including advocating for research funding, participating in clinical trials, raising awareness about the disease, and supporting organizations dedicated to finding a cure.


By 2050, 5 million people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with T1D; 600,000 of them will be children, requiring them to regularly monitor blood sugar and putting them at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, blindness and other complications. Hear 18-year-old Cooper Buchanan describe how he learned he has T1D, and, how he and others are imagining a world where no one has to ever hear: You have T1D.

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Diabetes Research Connection Banner

A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked

May 2022 Update

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated today provided updates on its Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VX-880, an investigational stem cell-derived, fully differentiated pancreatic islet cell replacement therapy for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) with impaired hypoglycemic awareness and severe hypoglycemia. According to the results released on May 2, data from the first two patients in Part A established proof-of-concept for VX-880, with one patient achieving insulin independence at day 270 and the other patient showing reductions in insulin requirements through Day 150.

Additionally, the Independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended advancement to Part B, where patients receive the full target dose of VX-880, which has been generally well-tolerated to date. Vertex also announced that VX-880 Phase 1/2 study has been placed on clinical hold in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to a determination that there is insufficient information to support dose escalation with the product.

Click HERE to read the full article about this update.



Vincenzo Cirulli, M.D., Ph.D.

Scientific Director, Diabetes Research Connection

Department of Medicine, UW Diabetes Institute

University of Washington

Institute for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine


Alberto Hayek, M.D.

Medical Director, Scripps/Whittier Diabetes Institute

Co-Founder, Diabetes Research Connection


David Winkler

Co-founder, past Chair and current CFO, Diabetes Research Connection

Past Chair, Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute

Past Chair, American Diabetes Association, San Diego Chapter

Type 1 Diabetes Patient for 62 years  


A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked.

This article, which appeared in the New York Times (NYT) on Saturday, November 27, 2021, provides a promise for achieving a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Dr. Melton, a brilliant scientist at Harvard, and an inspired father of two T1D patients is credited with overseeing this important effort which built on many past and present researchers’ discoveries.

While we applaud Dr. Melton and his team’s efforts for taking the necessary steps to bring this research to the bed-side, there are some questions that will need to be addressed. It remains to be determined if any issue or side effects will arise over time in some of the 17 patients participating to this initial clinical trial. Patient immunosuppression may be problematic, as it has been the case for some recipients of cadaveric human islet transplants. The long-term survival and function of these stem cell-derived beta cells will also need to be assessed, and design plans to replace them with additional transplants should they fail. Ultimately, the cost of the procedure and required FDA approval will also need to be addressed.

In the year 2000, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article that caused many to believe a cure for T1D had been discovered. The principal investigator, Dr. James Shapiro, initiated what became known as the Edmonton Protocol. This multicenter trial involved transplanting human cadaveric islets. Some issues soon arose: 1) an insufficient supply of islets; 2) failure of the islet transplants to function long-term; 3) complications associated with the site of transplantation into the portal vein of the liver, and 4) side effects caused by the immunosuppression of the recipients.

Undoubtedly, the most significant development since 2000 has been the conversion of pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing cells to provide an unlimited supply of islet tissue for transplantation in T1D patients.

The need for immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the islet transplants remains an ongoing concern, although these types of drugs, and their regimen protocols have improved considerably since 2000. Notwithstanding, immunosuppression continues to have issues. Better drugs will be needed to ensure that the transplanted islet tissue is not rejected, retains its insulin-producing function over time, and that the recipients’ immune systems is not negatively impacted for its important primary function of fighting off other diseases.

Another approach to avoid rejection of pluripotent stem cell-derived beta cells is to encapsulate them. However, to date, these cells have not prospered in such enclosed environments, because current cell encapsulation technologies do not allow for these beta cells to intimately interact with blood vessels of the host to receive nutrients and oxygen to survive long term while performing their insulin secretory function in response to circulating glucose levels.

In two recent studies just published in peer-reviewed journals (https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(21)00415-X), Canadian investigators led by Dr. Timothy Kieffer in collaboration with ViaCyte, and by ViaCyte scientists in collaboration with Dr. James Shapiro (https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(21)00338-4) reported that transplantation of immature stem cell-derived pancreatic islet progenitors in 15 and 17 patients, respectively, produced negligeable, yet detectable levels of human C-peptide production in response to a meal after a year from the day of transplantation. These studies were conducted using devices that allow some level of interaction of the transplanted cells with the patient’s blood vessels, thus requiring immune suppression. The bottom line is that after ~1 year, none of the patients became independent from insulin injections and all required exogenous insulin during the trial.

A possible solution to the problem of allorejection (i.e., immune rejection of “non-self” cells, coming from a different genetic background) may involve the use of a T1D patient’s own cells to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (or iPS), produced through a technique of reprogramming, and then convert these iPS cells into pancreatic beta cells. These “self-cells” may evade rejection by mechanisms of allo-immunity; however, auto-reactive immune cells that caused T1D in the first place in these patients may still target and destroy these newly transplanted beta cells.

San Diego’s ViaCyte is pursuing another potential cure. This company recently announced a collaboration with Crisper, a biotech leader in DNA editing to genetically modify the stem cells to avoid the need for immune therapy post-transplantation.

Ultimately, in order to ensure that all of the above treatments are safe for transplantation in the general population of T1D patients the FDA will require: 1) a careful peer-reviewed analysis of the results on all patients; 2) a long-term assessment of the survival and function of the transplanted cells; 3) evaluation of the long-term effects of immunosuppression; and 4) determination of the acceptability of all side effects.

Collectively, what all of these recent advancements show is that there is much more to be learned before stem cell derived islet tissue can be routinely and safely used for cell replacement therapy in T1D.

Hence, notwithstanding these open questions, substantial progress is being made towards a functional cure for T1D. We must proceed with hope and caution while pursuing additional innovative research.

The DRC is committed to continue supporting innovative basic and translational research by early-career scientists who strive to prevent, find better treatments for, and cure T1D.


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Drew Schlosberg's Spotlight on the community

We’re Committed to Eradicating T1D

We’re Committed to Eradicating T1D

Every year, millions of people around the world are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), a lifelong health condition that currently has no cure. We’re part of the global effort to eradicate T1D and we want to share our mission with you.

Understanding Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

Before we dive into the journey of eradication, let’s take a moment to understand what T1D is. It’s an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of T1D

It often starts with symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss. Diagnosis usually happens during childhood or adolescence, but it can also start in adulthood. It’s like an unwelcome visitor, it just pops up uninvited.

H4: Consequences of Living with T1D

Living with T1D is like walking a tightrope. The constant monitoring of blood glucose levels, regular insulin injections, dietary restrictions – it’s all a balancing act that can impact quality of life.

The Journey towards Eradicating T1D

Eradicating T1D is a mammoth task. However, with advancements in medical research and robust policy initiatives, we are hopeful that this goal is not too far in the horizon.

Medical Research and Innovations

Continuous research in the field of endocrinology and immunology is driving progress towards a cure. From artificial pancreas systems to gene therapies, the innovative technologies give us hope.

Case Study: The Impact of Insulin Pumps

Take the example of insulin pumps. They’ve revolutionized diabetes management by delivering precise insulin doses, reducing the burden of multiple daily injections. It’s a game changer!

Policy Efforts and Advocacy

Policy changes and advocacy are equally important in this battle against T1D. Laws that ensure access to insulin and diabetes management tools are a crucial part of the fight.

Case Study: The Influence of Diabetes Advocacy Groups

Organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) lobby governments to support research funding. They’re not just voices in the wilderness, they’re making real, tangible impacts.

How Can You Contribute?

We can’t do this alone. We need your help! There are many ways to join this mission.

Increasing Awareness About T1D

One of the most effective ways is by raising awareness. Talk about it, share information on social media, and educate others about T1D.

Participating in T1D Fundraisers

Join fundraising events or donate to research organizations. Every little bit helps, and no contribution is too small.

Supporting Medical Research and Policy Changes

Support organizations pushing for medical advancements and policy changes. They need our collective backing to fight this disease on all fronts.

Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle

While T1D isn’t preventable, living a healthy lifestyle can make managing it easier and can help prevent type 2 diabetes. You know what they say, a healthy body is a fortress.

The Path Ahead

The journey to eradicating T1D is long, but with each step we’re getting closer. It’s a mountain to climb, but we’re equipped and we’re determined.


Our commitment to eradicating T1D is steadfast. With advancements in research, strong policy efforts, and your support, we’re hopeful of a future without Type 1 Diabetes. Together, we can make a difference.


  1. What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? Type 1 is an autoimmune condition, while Type 2 is often linked to lifestyle and genetic factors.
  2. Is Type 1 diabetes preventable? Currently, there is no known way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes.
  3. Can Type 1 diabetes be cured? There’s no cure yet, but ongoing research offers hope for future breakthroughs.
  4. How can I contribute to the fight against Type 1 Diabetes? From increasing awareness to donating to research, there are various ways to contribute.
  5. Why is medical research important in the fight against T1D? Medical research is crucial for finding better treatments and ultimately, a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Learn about our commitment to not rest until T1D is eliminated in this recent Spotlight on the Community podcast.

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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