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Research Study for type 1 diabetes

Proactively Identifying Type 1 Diabetes

Identifying Type 1 Diabetes Development

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells. As the number of cells depletes, the body is unable to adequately control blood sugar levels. Researchers have been striving to find a way to prevent this destruction from occurring or to find a way to replace these cells so that the body can once again manage its own blood sugar.

A recent study took a closer look at exactly when this transformation begins to take place and beta cells begin dying off. They found that in many participants, the decline started at least six months prior to when patients would meet clinical requirements for a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Diagnostic thresholds are currently a “fasting glucose of ≥126 mg/mL or 2-hour glucose of ≥200 mg/dL.”

The study involved 80 patients split into three categories: younger than age 11, ages 11 to 20, and older than age 20. All participants were first- or second-degree relatives of someone with type 1 diabetes and were diagnosed themselves while undergoing oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs) every six months. The results showed that across all age groups, C-peptide levels started declining around 12 months before diagnosis but showed the most significant changes in function in the 6 months prior to and 12 months following diagnosis.

By tracking these changes in individuals who are considered at-risk of developing type 1 diabetes, doctors may be able to catch declining beta-cell function early on and intervene with treatment before patients reach diagnostic thresholds for the disease. This could potentially be a way to prevent or slow the onset of type 1 diabetes through proactive immunotherapy.

More research is needed to further explore these findings and expand them to a larger group of participants. However, it provides researchers with insight on when type 1 diabetes may begin to develop and some changes to focus on. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), though not involved with this study, supports early-career scientists in pursuing novel research studies around type 1 diabetes to help advance prevention and treatment efforts as well as minimizing complications, improving quality of life, and finding a cure. Learn more about current studies and how to support these projects by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Medical Technology

Helping Drive Technology Advancements

Diabetes Patients Are Helping Drive Technology Advancements

Managing type 1 diabetes is an around-the-clock job. Patients must always be aware of what their blood sugar level is, whether it is trending up or down, whether or not to administer insulin, and if they do need insulin, how much. While there have been many advancements in technology to help with monitoring and insulin administration, the development and approval process is often long and drawn out. There are a limited number of devices approved by the government for use.

Patients with type 1 diabetes have begun taking their health into their own hands and improving treatment options. There are free directions online for how patients can connect their continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and their insulin pump with their smartphone to create a closed-loop system that tracks their blood glucose and automatically administers insulin as necessary. This type of artificial pancreas is something that researchers and pharmaceutical companies have been working on for years, but to date, there is only one commercially available closed-loop system available for use in Canada.

Jonathan Garfinkel, a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta, took his chances and used the patient-created instructions for setting up the closed-loop system two years ago, and it has been life-changing. Previously, he was having a lot of difficulty managing his blood sugar overnight, and it would drop dangerously low. With the closed-loop system, his blood sugar has become much stabler overnight, and he is not tasked with regularly doing finger pricks and figuring out insulin dosing on his own.

These advancements in technology that patients with diabetes are developing have prompted pharmaceutical companies to quicken their own pace when it comes to getting devices created and approved for commercial use. Patients are becoming increasingly more comfortable with technology and relying on smartphones, sensors, and other devices to help them stay abreast of their health.

Garfinkel himself is also working on a project to advance technology for diabetes treatment. He is in the process of developing “a more affordable glucose sensor that would sit on top of the skin, rather than being inserted subcutaneously.” It was a project he began in collaboration with Mojgan Daneshmand, an engineer and Canada Research Chair in Radio Frequency Microsystems for Communication and Sensing, who was unfortunately killed in a plane crash in January 2020. Garfinkel is continuing the work that they started together and was awarded a U of A seed grant to help.

There are so many young researchers with incredible potential who can benefit from funding that will allow them to carry out their plans and see the results. The Diabetes Research Connection provides up to $50K in funding to early-career scientists to empower them in moving forward with their novel research projects focused on type 1 diabetes. These opportunities open doors to improving the prevention, treatment, and management of type 1 diabetes, as well as improving quality of life, minimizing complications, and one day finding a cure. Learn more by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Sleep Disturbances with Type 1 Diabetes

Sleep Disturbances Common with T1D

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that must be monitored around the clock. When children are awake, it is easier to tell when blood sugar may be spiking too high or dropping too low. At night, this is more challenging, and it is essential to continue testing blood sugar levels to stay within the target range and administer insulin as necessary.

Children typically rely on their parents to manage their diabetes and monitor blood sugar, whether done manually or through a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A recent study found that children who use a CGM often sleep better at night, but it is their parents who have more disturbances in their sleep due to reacting to CGM data.

As part of a larger study, researchers evaluated the sleep quality of 46 parents of children with type 1 diabetes. The children were between the ages of 2 and 5, and some used CGMs while others did not. Parents reported on the time their children went to bed, woke up, and how long they slept. The average was 10.4 hours per night. Also, all 11 families who used CGMs wore accelerometers that tracked their sleep patterns for a minimum of four nights. The accelerometer showed an average of 9.8 hours of sleep per night for children.

According to the study, “Among the full cohort, 63% of parents reported checking their child’s blood glucose levels at least a few nights per week. Parents of children using CGMs reported a higher frequency of nighttime blood glucose monitoring compared with parents of children without a CGM.”

The percentage of parents who experienced sleep disturbances concerning blood glucose monitoring was noticeably higher than the percentage of children, at 78.3% and 17% respectively. Parents of children with CGMs reported higher levels of sleep disturbance, especially when the child’s diabetes was more difficult to manage. Additional research with a larger group of participants across a longer period of time is necessary to better understand the impact of diabetes management on sleep for parents and children.

It is important for physicians to keep in mind not just the impact a CGM or other device could have on the child’s health and quality of life, but also on the parent. Parents benefit from having proper support systems in place and information to help them cope with the challenges of managing their child’s type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes Research Connection, though not involved in this study, is committed to supporting early-career scientists focused on studying type 1 diabetes and ways to improve prevention, treatment, and quality of life, as well as one day finding a cure. One hundred percent of donations go directly to the scientists for their research. To learn more about current projects and how to help, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Enhancing Protection for Islets

Enhancing Protection for Islets Following Transplantation

One treatment approach for type 1 diabetes that researchers have been experimenting with and refining for more than 20 years is islet transplantation. The goal is to take insulin-producing islets from cadavers (or another source) and transplant them into individuals with type 1 diabetes so that these cells will thrive and allow the body to begin producing insulin once again.

A common challenge with this approach is protecting the cells from immune system attack or cell death from lack of oxygen. A recent study has found a way to overcome some of these obstacles by encapsulating the islets in a jelly-like substance made of collagen. This helps create a scaffolding that will not initiate an immune response yet contains the islets while allowing them to grow new blood vessels that will ultimately provide them with oxygen. Since this blood vessel regrowth can take time, the researchers also injected the scaffolding with calcium peroxide. As the calcium peroxide breaks down, it releases oxygen which is used to keep the cells alive as they settle in and begin working.

In traditional organ transplantation, the organ is surgically connected to the circulatory system meaning that the organ automatically begins receiving the oxygen and nutrients it needs for survival. Islet transplants do not work this way since the cells are not a solid organ. In addition, the cells are typically injected into the liver rather than the pancreas where they would normally occur. There is a greater risk of the pancreas having a negative reaction and destroying the islets than the liver.

The researchers tested this new bioscaffold in diabetic mice. Some mice received islets on their own, some received islets in the bioscaffold, and some received islets and calcium peroxide in the bioscaffold. The diabetic mice who received the islets and calcium peroxide demonstrated greater blood glucose control over four weeks than the other two groups. The team is now looking at the possibility of injecting the scaffolding with stem cells as well to further enhance islet survival and function.

These types of advancements in treatment are encouraging when it comes to type 1 diabetes. It is expected that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve islet transplantation as a valid treatment for T1D, rather than an experimental treatment, this year. This could increase the number of options available to patients for effectively managing the disease.

Diabetes Research Connection continues to stay abreast of changes in the field and provides critical funding for early-career scientists pursuing novel research around T1D. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Reduced Out-of-Pocket Insulin Costs for Seniors Through Medicare

Out-of-Pocket Insulin Costs for Seniors

The cost of buying insulin can quickly add up, but this medication is life-sustaining for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Many seniors are on a fixed income, and some may struggle to afford the out-of-pocket costs for insulin, which can lead to rationing their supply. This can be incredibly dangerous to their health.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it would implement measures to help curb these costs for seniors. Many Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage will now be offering lower insulin costs to seniors, capping the copay at $35 for a month’s supply. This is part of the new Part D Senior Savings Model and will cover “both pen and vial dosage forms for rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting insulins.”

Insulin manufacturers and Part D sponsors are working together to offer this market-based solution that enables them to provide deeper discounts to seniors and fixed, predictable copays in the coverage gap. According to CMS, “beneficiaries who use insulin and join a plan participating in the model could see an average out-of-pocket savings of $446, or 66 percent, for their insulins, funded in part by manufacturers paying an estimated additional $250 million of discounts over the five years of the model.”

Seniors will be able to go on to the CMS website and compare their prescription drug plan options to find a participating sponsor and plan that fits their needs. Enrollment would begin in the fall for coverage starting on January 1, 2021. There have also been numerous actions that have been taken in response to COVID-19 to support individuals with type 1 diabetes in accessing and affording insulin.

It is encouraging to see drug manufacturers and insurance companies making changes to improve access and affordability of life-sustaining medications such as insulin. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) will continue to stay abreast of these trends and how they impact diabetes management. DRC provides critical funding for researchers focused on type 1 diabetes to find a cure and improve prevention and treatment options as well as the quality of life. To learn more, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Examining Pancreatic Beta Cell Regeneration Processes

Researchers often use cell cultures and tissue slices to study the function and processes of various cells. One of the challenges of this approach, however, is the viability of these samples. For instance, pancreatic tissue slices typically show significant cell death after less than 24 hours due to poor oxygenation. This means that only short-term studies are possible, using samples while they are most viable and representative of the integrity of the native organ.

But, researchers are looking to change that. In a recent study, scientists altered how human pancreatic slices (HPSs) are cultured and managed to preserve function for 10 days or more. This is significant when it comes to being able to conduct longer-term longitudinal studies. Studies were also conducted on tissue samples from non-transgenic mice.

Traditionally, HPSs are preserved in standard transwell dishes. In this model, tissue is placed on top of a liquid-permeable membrane and surrounded with an air-liquid medium. However, oxygenation begins to decrease within several hours, and signs of anoxia appear. A new approach uses perfluorocarbon (PFC)-based dishes. This model places tissue atop a liquid-impermeable membrane providing direct contact with oxygen. An air-liquid medium also surrounds the slice. A variety of testing shows that PFC-based cultures have improved oxygenation and lower levels of anoxia.

In turn, this allowed scientists to more effectively study pancreatic beta-cell regeneration processes. HPSs retain “near-intact cytoarchitecture” of the organ in its native state in the body. Combined with the longer-term viability of the samples in the PFC-based setting, researchers were able to focus in on how and where beta cells were regenerating. They used HPSs from non-diabetic individuals as well as those with type 2 diabetes to enhance their understanding of how to stimulate this regeneration and improve insulin production.

When samples were left to rest for 24 hours to reduce the impact of stress from slicing and then treated with Bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP-7) proteins, scientists found that they showed higher levels of beta-cell regeneration than controls that were not treated with BMP-7. Much of this cell development occurred in regions corresponding to pancreatic ducts. Some new cells emerged from existing beta cells, while others transitioned from alpha to beta cells.

Improved oxygenation methods are changing how scientists are able to interact with HPSs and the types of testing they are able to conduct. According to the study, “Our goal in refining the conditions for the long-term survival of HPS was to allow for the real-time detection and quantification of endocrine cell regeneration.” While more in-depth and extensive studies are needed, these findings may lead the way toward improved understanding of the pathology of pancreatic beta-cell regeneration and new treatment options for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to supporting these types of advancements and efforts by providing critical funding to early-career scientists pursuing novel, peer-reviewed research related to type 1 diabetes. With adequate funding, scientists are able to bring their ideas to life and contribute to not only greater understanding of the disease, but improved methods and therapies for diagnosing, treating, managing, and eventually curing type 1 diabetes. Learn more about current projects and support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

 

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Could Insulin Management be Controlled with an App?

Determining the appropriate amount of insulin to administer in response to drops in blood sugar can be challenging, but it is something that individuals with type 1 diabetes must do daily in order to manage their health. If left untreated, low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia) can be potentially fatal.

A team of researchers and physicians at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) are looking to improve diabetes management through a new app called DailyDose. While there are similar types of apps that exist, what sets DailyDose apart is that has demonstrated statistically relevant outcomes through multiple clinical studies. The AI algorithm for the app was originally developed entirely through a mathematical simulator, but when real-world data was used, the recommendations generated by the app aligned with recommendations provided by physicians, or were still considered safe, more than 99% of the time. In addition, improved glucose control was achieved. This was determined after 100 weeks of testing conducted in four-week trials.

Each trial involved 16 patients with type 1 diabetes and combined information from a continuous glucose monitor or wireless insulin pen with the app. Nearly 68% of the time, the recommendations generated agreed with those of physicians.

These findings are important because they show that the app may be effective in supporting individuals with type 1 diabetes in reducing risk of hypoglycemia by better managing insulin administration and blood glucose levels between appointments with their endocrinologist. Larger clinical trials are needed over longer periods of time to further determine the accuracy and effectiveness of the app in relation to other treatment strategies.

Technology is becoming increasingly more popular and advanced in terms of managing type 1 diabetes. There are numerous devices and apps already available and more in the works. This gives individuals with type 1 diabetes a wider variety of options in order to determine what works best for their needs and lifestyle.

Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) strives to continue growing understanding of type 1 diabetes and improving prevention and treatment methods as well as one day finding a cure. Early-career scientists can receive critical funding through the DRC to pursue novel research studies around T1D. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts at http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could Advancements in Gene Editing Reverse Type 1 Diabetes?

Gene therapy is not a new approach when it comes to treating type 1 diabetes. Scientists have been experimenting with many different options in order to stimulate the body to once again produce its own insulin and reduce or eliminate the need for insulin injections. However, some of the problems that scientists often encounter when introducing new cells into the body are that patients typically require immunosuppressant drugs which can lead to a variety of complications, the body rejects the cells over time, or the cells stop working. Finding a long-term, effective solution has been challenging.

Scientists are making strides in their efforts, though. A recent study examined the potential of using the gene-editing tool CRISPR to correct genetic mutations and create induced pluripotent stem cells that can be transformed into pancreatic beta cells. In mouse models, after the new cells were injected, mice achieved normoglycemia within a week and maintained this status for at least six months.

This approach has not yet been tested in humans, however, because it comes with its own set of challenges. First, the study was done using cells from patients with Wolfram syndrome, a condition that causes diabetes and deafness. This condition can be pinpointed to a single genetic mutation, whereas type 1 diabetes cannot. Type 1 diabetes has been tied to multiple gene mutations, as well as environmental factors. Gene-editing would have to be personalized for each individual, which could take a lot of time.

In addition, it could take billions of cells to effectively reverse diabetes in a patient, and generating this massive number of cells could take months, so it could end up being a long process to treat even one person. Plus, scientists are not entirely sure where the best place to transplant these cells is yet. They must find the spot where they will be most beneficial and able to carry out their intended purpose.

Another study using CRISPR technology is being conducted by a different group of researchers and is focused on using stem cells from the human cell line rather than from individual patients. This would make it easier to produce mass quantities of cells in a shorter period of time. It also would not require scientists to correct specific genetic mutations. CRISPR would be used to edit cells to prevent them from being attacked and destroyed by the body’s immune system.

A challenge with these approaches is that there are a lot of questions and regulations when it comes to gene-editing and using CRISPR on human subjects. Clinical trials are still in very early stages. Studies involving induced pluripotent stem cells are also relatively new in the United States. There is still a lot of work, research, and testing that needs to be done before gene-editing therapy could potentially be used on humans.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) will continue to follow these advancements and what they could mean for future diabetes treatment. DRC supports early-career scientists in contributing valuable discoveries and information of their own to the field by providing critical research funding. All projects funded by the DRC are focused on the prevention, treatment, and cure of type 1 diabetes, as well as minimizing complications and improving the quality of life for individuals living with the disease. Learn more and support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Exploring the Impact of Type 1 Diabetes on COVID-19

For the past several months, the world has been struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 and effectively treat patients diagnosed with this disease. It is a new strain of coronavirus that researchers continue to learn more about every day. One thing that is known about the virus is that individuals with underlying health conditions are at increased risk of developing severe illness and complications.

One such underlying health condition that researchers are paying closer attention to is type 1 diabetes (T1D). Preliminary research from small studies appear to show that individuals with T1D are at increased risk of poorer health outcomes than those with type 2 diabetes (T2D) or no history of diabetes. A recent study of 64 individuals with T1D and confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the United States found that “more than 50% of all cases reported hyperglycemia, and nearly one-third of patients experienced DKA.” Both hyperglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can be life-threatening conditions if not properly treated in time.

Furthermore, research released from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) revealed that hospitalized individuals with T1D are significantly more likely to die from COVID-19 than those with T2D. Scientists believe that hyperglycemia may enhance the immune system’s overresponse thereby exacerbating the impact of severe infections.

Being hospitalized can make it more difficult for individuals with T1D to maintain glycemic control because their body is already trying to fight off infection, and they may not have the mental clarity or ability to effectively monitor their own blood sugar. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) sponsored a study by Addie Fortmann, Ph.D., regarding the use of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in hospital settings, which found that these devices were pivotal to glycemic control. As a result, Scripps deployed this technology across all of their hospitals to better support diabetes management.

But not every hospital in the United States allows patients to use their CGM while admitted, and not all staff is adequately trained in diabetes care. This can complicate things for patients struggling with T1D as well as COVID-19 and contribute to poorer health outcomes. Not only are patients fighting against the effects of COVID-19 including fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, nausea, body aches, and fatigue, if their blood sugar should go too high or too low, this can add to more symptoms and complications. In both patients with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 as well as T1D, DKA was the most prevalent adverse outcome.

It is essential that attention is given to managing underlying conditions such as diabetes in order to provide more effective treatment tailored to patient needs. Since 2012, the DRC has been providing critical funding for early-career scientists pursuing novel, peer-reviewed research related to type 1 diabetes. This work is essential to advancing understanding of the disease, improving prevention strategies and treatment options, minimizing complications, enhancing quality of life, and working toward a cure. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Taking Steps to Prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Pediatric Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

There are many complications that can occur with type 1 diabetes, but one of the most serious is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). When the body does not produce (or have) enough insulin to help convert sugar to energy, it begins breaking down fat and using that as fuel instead. However, this releases acid known as ketones into the bloodstream, in turn leading to DKA when levels become too high.

A recent study found that DKA among newly diagnosed pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes is alarmingly high among patients around the world. During an 11-year study spanning from 2006 to 2016, researchers found that out of 59,000 children who had been diagnosed with T1D, 29.9% presented with DKA at diagnosis. The study examined data from children in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Of these countries, prevalence rates in Luxembourg and Italy were found to be the highest at 43.8% and 41.2%, respectively, while Sweden and Denmark had the lowest rates at 19.5% and 20.8%, respectively. DKA at diabetes diagnosed increased over the 11-year study in the United States, Australia, and Germany. Overall, DKA tended to impact a higher proportion of females than males, except in Wales.

In order to help reduce risk of DKA at diagnosis, the researchers encourage improved screenings beginning with young children. For example, Bavaria, Germany tests for islet autoantibodies as part of a public health screening for children between the ages of 2 and 5. Studies showed that their prevalence of DKA at diagnosis came in at less than 5%. Increased screenings and education may be beneficial in raising awareness and catching potential problems early on before DKA develops.

Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to improving understanding, prevention, and treatment of type 1 diabetes by providing critical funding for novel, peer-reviewed research studies by early-career scientists. Find out how to support these efforts and learn more about current projects by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Managing Blood Sugar During Exercise with Long-Acting Insulin

Engaging in regular physical activity is good for overall health. It helps with weight management, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, blood sugar, and more. Individuals with type 1 diabetes may find exercise helpful in improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the amount of insulin needed following activity. However, this can also be a challenge because they must carefully monitor their blood-glucose levels to ensure that they do not become too low or too high.

A recent study found that combining long-acting insulin (degludec) with the use of an insulin pump can be beneficial for managing glucose levels during and after exercise. Some individuals with T1D prefer to remove their insulin pump during exercise, and by administering degludec before starting exercise, they were able to remain in target range (70-180 mg/dL) for longer periods of time than when just using the insulin pump alone.

The study involved 24 physically active adults who participated in two phases of workouts that included five weeks of high- and moderate-intensity sessions. During one phase, they only used their insulin pump to control their basal insulin needs, and for the second, they used the insulin pump and the degludec. When using the insulin pump alone, they spent an average of 143 minutes (40% of the time) in target range, but when using the degludec, this time in range increased to 230 minutes (64% of the time).

The researchers found that “this was down to a significant 87-minute reduction in time spent in hyperglycemia, with no difference seen for hypoglycemia” as well. In addition, when using the hybrid insulin approach, blood sugar rose just 14.5 mg/dL after 30 minutes following exercise, compared to an 82.9 mg/dL increase using the insulin pump alone.

More than two-thirds of participants found the hybrid insulin regimen useful, and nearly half said they were somewhat or very likely to continue using this approach while exercising in the future. The researchers are looking at moving forward with a larger study to see if these results continue to be significant when more people are involved.

This study shows that there may be more than one effective option for improving glucose control during exercise for individuals with type 1 diabetes. They do not have to rely on the insulin pump alone, and some may find administering degludec beneficial when exercising without their insulin pump.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how this study plays out in the future and if more people can benefit from the hybrid insulin regimen while exercising. It is encouraging to see more options become available to help individuals better control their diabetes while improving their health and quality of life. DRC supports early-career scientists in pursuing novel research on type 1 diabetes by providing access to funding. The goal is to one day find a cure while also improving prevention, treatment, and management of the disease. Learn more by visiting http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could Benefits of Early Screening for Type 1 Diabetes Outweigh Costs?

Advances in science have improved the ability to identify warning signs for type 1 diabetes (T1D) early on. For instance, scientists can detect the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells before noticeable signs of diabetes emerge or conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occur. They have also determined other key changes and factors that may put an individual at increased risk.

A recent study found that conducting health screenings on children can increase awareness regarding their risk of developing T1D, help prevent DKA occurrences, and encourage individuals to take better care of their health to reduce complications and impact of the disease.

Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado School of Medicine created the Autoimmunity Screening for Kids (ASK) study to determine if this type of health screening is beneficial. While it can be costly to conduct widespread screenings for children between the ages of 1 and 17, they found that there are a host of benefits such as those mentioned above. In addition, the long-term cost savings can quickly make up for screening expenses because when individuals know their risk and learn how to better manage their T1D, it can reduce complications and associated healthcare costs.

Now they are looking at how to effectively implement screenings, what the practice would look like, what the age schedule for screenings should be, and who would benefit most. Early detection can play an integral role in managing T1D and improving quality (and quantity) of life.

Diabetes research occurs at all stages of the disease, from the time patients are pre-symptomatic to those with the most serious complications. It covers everything from screenings to closed-loop systems for treatment to understanding the cellular and molecular impact of the disease. Diabetes Research Connection is committed to supporting a wide range of T1D research by providing critical funding to early-career scientists. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Study Affirms Safety and Effectiveness of U.S. Insulin Products

When an individual with type 1 diabetes (T1D) administers insulin to control their blood sugar levels, they want to feel confident that no matter what U.S. retail pharmacy they purchased their insulin from, it will work. Differences in consistency and potency of insulin could have a detrimental impact on patient health and their ability to manage their T1D.

A recent study looked at samples of human and analog insulin products from across manufacturers and found that they were all correctly labeled and contained the expected quantity of active insulin. Since individuals with T1D rely on insulin injections multiple times per day, it can be reassuring to know that the product they are using adheres to how it is labeled.

The study was a joint effort between JDRF, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The study was conducted within a single year, so now the team is looking to expand to a second phase that measures for any variations again, this time looking at “potential seasonal variations in reported insulin activity.”

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is proud to see that manufacturers are producing quality insulin products that meet consistency and potency standards. Worrying about the quality of their insulin is not something that individuals with T1D should have to do. The DRC supports early-career scientists in pursuing novel, peer-reviewed research focused on the prevention and cure of type 1 diabetes as well as minimizing complications and improving quality of life for individuals living with the disease. To learn more, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Combination Therapy May Help Improve Blood Sugar Management

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels and minimizing complications is a constant challenge for many individuals living with type 1 diabetes. They must always be alert to whether their blood sugar is too low or too high and how much insulin to administer. However, researchers are continually exploring ways to improve blood sugar management by better understanding how diabetes affects the body.

In a recent study, researchers from Stanford University have taken a new approach by combining two FDA-approved drugs and developing a way for them to work in tandem as they naturally do in the body through a single injection. In addition to insulin, individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) would also take a drug based on the hormone amylin. This drug is already FDA-approved, but less than 1% of patients with diabetes take it. This could be because they do not want to administer a second shot every time they take insulin. When combined, insulin and the amylin-based drug work together just as they do when naturally occurring in the body. Amylin is produced by the same insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

According to researchers, amylin works in three ways:

“First, it stops another hormone, glucagon, from telling the body to release additional sugar that has been stored in the liver. Second, it produces a sense of “fullness” at mealtimes that reduces food intake. Third, it actually slows the uptake of food by the body, reducing the typical spike in blood sugar after a meal. All three are a boon to diabetes care.”

However, in their current states, insulin and the amylin-based drug are too unstable to combine in one syringe. To combat this problem, the researchers have developed a protective coating that encompasses each molecule individually, allowing them to stably exist together. This molecular wrapper has a Velcro-like feature that “reversibly binds to both insulin and amylin separately, shielding the unstable portion of each molecule from breakdown.” Once administered, the coating dissolves in the bloodstream.

With this protective coating – known as cucurbituril-polyethylene glycol (CB-PEG) – the combination of insulin and the amylin-based drug showed stability for at least 100 hours. This could give it a shelf life that is long enough to be used with an insulin pump. Researchers have tested the combination therapy on diabetic pigs and are working toward gaining approval for human trials. Since both drugs are already FDA-approved, this could help to move things along more quickly.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see what this could mean for the future of T1D treatment and blood glucose management. This combination therapy could help alleviate some of the challenges that patients face and improve management of the disease. Though not involved with this study, the DRC is committed to supporting research around type 1 diabetes in order to improve diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and the pursuit of a cure. The organization provides critical funding to early-career scientists to advance their research. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Glucose-Sensing Neurons Work Together to Manage Blood Sugar

Whereas insulin is necessary to combat high blood glucose levels, a different hormone is necessary to manage low ones: glucagon. This hormone helps to regulate glucose production and absorption bringing glucose levels back into an acceptable range.

A recent study from researchers at Baylor University and other institutions found that there is a specific group of neurons in the brain that may play an integral role in blood sugar regulation and preventing hypoglycemia. Within the ventrolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus region, there are estrogen receptor-alpha neurons that are also glucose-sensing.

What the researchers found particularly interesting was that half the neurons became more active when blood sugar levels were high (glucose-excited), and the other half became more active when blood sugar levels were low (glucose-inhibited). Furthermore, each group of neurons used a different ion channel to regulate neuronal firing activities. However, they both led to the same result – increasing blood glucose levels when they were low – even though they were activating different circuits in the brain. This leads to a perfect balance in managing blood sugar.

The next step in the study is to investigate whether the fact that all of the neurons in this specific group that expressed estrogen receptors play a role in the glucose-sensing process. In turn, this could lead to more gender-specific studies to determine differences in neuronal function when it comes to blood sugar regulation.

One important factor to note is that all of these studies were conducted on hypoglycemic mice. The researchers did not identify whether the process is believed to be the same in humans.

This is another step forward in better understanding how diabetes affects the body, brain, and functioning. Diabetes Research Connection strives to empower early-career scientists in pursuing novel, peer-reviewed studies related to type 1 diabetes by providing up to $50K in funding. Research is focused on the prevention and cure of type 1 diabetes as well as minimizing complications and improving quality of life for individuals living with the disease. Find out how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Targeting the Effects of Specific Drugs on Pancreatic Islets

The production of insulin and glucagon used to regulate blood sugar levels come from pancreatic islet cells. In individuals with type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys these cells leaving the body unable to naturally regulate blood sugar. That means that individuals must continuously monitor and manage these levels themselves.

A recent study examined the impact that specific drugs have on pancreatic islet cells and their function. Researchers were able to fine-tune single-cell transcriptomics to remove contamination from RNA molecules that could interfere with results and negatively affect reliability of the data.

Once they had created decontaminated transcriptomes, they tested three different drugs that relate to blood glucose management. They found that one drug, FOXO1, “induces dedifferentiation of both alpha and beta cells,” while the drug artemether “had been found to diminish the function of alpha cells and could induce insulin production in both in vivo and in vitro studies.” They compared these drugs in both human and mouse samples to determine if there were any differences in how the cells responded. One notable difference was that artemether did not have a significant impact on insulin expression in human cells, but in mouse cells, there was reduced insulin expression and overall beta cell identity.

Single-cell analysis of various drugs could help guide future therapeutic treatments for type 1 diabetes as researchers better understand their impact. Targeted therapies have become a greater focus of research as scientists continue to explore T1D at a cellular level.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how single-cell sequencing and the ability to decontaminate RNA sequences could affect diabetes research. The organization supports a wide array of T1D-focused studies by providing critical funding to allow early-career scientists to advance their research. To learn more and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Examining the Co-Occurrence of Asthma and Type 1 Diabetes

It is not uncommon for individuals to have more than one disease or condition at a time. Oftentimes, there is an underlying link between their development, even if it is not entirely understood. In addition, many conditions run in families, which can be due to genetics or even possibly environmental factors.

A recent study looked at data from more than 1.2 million children in Sweden to see if there was a potential association between asthma and type 1 diabetes. They examined risk both within individuals and within families, comparing information from full siblings, half-siblings (both maternal and paternal), full cousins, and half cousins as well.

According to their results, individuals with asthma were at increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D), but the presence of T1D did not increase their risk of later developing asthma. In addition, if an individual had either T1D or asthma, their full siblings were at increased risk of developing either disease. Full cousins were also at a greater risk.

Data was obtained from several Swedish registers held by the National Board of Health & Welfare and Statistics Sweden and encompassed 1,284,748 singleton children born in Sweden between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2013. Of these children, 121,809 had asthma, 3,812 had T1D, and 494 had both diseases. Their findings suggest that there may be shared familiar factors that affect associations ranging from genetics to environment.

Understanding these potential associations may help healthcare providers with recognizing symptoms of either disease earlier on if one has already been diagnosed. It may also influence management or treatment of these diseases. More research is necessary to further explore possible connections between asthma and T1D and what that might mean for future care.

Though not involved in this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is continually striving to advance research related to T1D by providing critical funding to early-career scientists for their studies. This can lead to improved diagnosis, treatment, and prevention methods, as well as one day finding a cure. To learn more about current research projects and how to help, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Using Saliva to Monitor Blood Glucose Levels

Traditional blood glucose monitoring for type 1 diabetes has involved using finger sticks to draw and test a small droplet of blood. This can leave fingers sore and calloused as testing occurs multiple times throughout the day to keep blood sugar in check. In addition, it requires a variety of supplies, and lancets used to draw blood must be disposed of safely and properly.

A recent study found that there may be a non-invasive method of monitoring blood sugar that is easier to collect and test: saliva. Researchers found that saliva contains numerous biomarkers that could make it a feasible alternative to blood. In addition, testing is conducted using Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy rather than the reagents that are necessary when blood is used. That makes saliva a more sustainable and eco-friendly option as well. In early testing, using saliva was 95.2% accurate in monitoring blood sugar.

Regular testing and monitoring of blood sugar is essential for individuals with type 1 diabetes to reduce risk of hypo- or hyperglycemia as well as diabetic ketoacidosis and other complications. However, many people do not enjoy constant finger sticks. Using saliva and ATR-FTIR spectroscopy or other technology could become a non-invasive, less painful option. This process is still in early stages of testing, and more research is needed to determine its efficacy and how exactly it could be used by patients.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see how this form of blood glucose monitoring evolves moving forward and what it could mean for individuals living with type 1 diabetes. It is another step toward providing more management options and better meeting the needs of individuals with diabetes.

Though not involved with this study, the DRC is committed to providing critical funding for early-career scientists pursuing research related to type 1 diabetes. This could include topics focused on improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and management of the disease, as well as minimizing complications, enhancing quality of life, and finding a cure. To learn more and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Using Gene Editing as a Potential Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

It has been more than a decade since scientists began experimenting with CRISPR gene-editing technology to alter DNA sequences and gene function. This tool allows scientists to correct mutations or defects in genes and manipulate them to treat or prevent certain diseases. This technology has also been used with crops. Researchers are still exploring this tool’s potential and ethical use, but many studies have been conducted thus far using it in different ways.

A recent study examines the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in the treatment of diabetes. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis corrected a mutation in the WFS1 gene which causes Wolfram syndrome, of which diabetes is one symptom. Then, they used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit human-induced pluripotent stem cells and target their differentiation into pancreatic beta cells. This creates an abundance of fully functional beta cells to be used in conjunction with gene therapy.

When the altered beta cells were transplanted into diabetic mice, blood glucose levels dropped and glycemic control was maintained for at least six months. Scientists are exploring whether this process can be used to effectively reverse or stop type 1 diabetes by editing a patient’s own beta cells. In addition, the abundance of cells created means that more testing can occur to develop specific medications or therapies to treat the disease.

More research is needed before gene editing can potentially be used as an approved treatment for type 1 diabetes, but researchers continue to learn more. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see what this technology may mean for the future of diabetes treatment and management and how it could evolve. Though not involved with this study, the DRC is committed to supporting research around type 1 diabetes and provides early-career scientists with critical funding for novel, peer-reviewed studies. To learn more about current projects and how to help, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Dexcom to Launch Patient Assistance Program to Support Type 1 Diabetes Care

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) does not take a break for a global pandemic, or for anything else. It is a chronic health condition that must be managed 24/7/365. Access to affordable medical and testing supplies is critical for patients. With unemployment skyrocketing as an effect of the coronavirus outbreak, many people have lost their employer-provided healthcare. Without insurance (or income from a steady job), paying for diabetes supplies can become difficult.

In an effort to better support individuals impacted by the loss of insurance due to COVID-19, Dexcom is launching a patient assistance program. The program will provide eligible participants with “two 90-day supply shipments, with each dispatch including one transmitter and three boxes of sensors at just $45 per 90-day shipment” according to the organization.

This will allow patients to continue following their normal management routine without fear of how they will afford their CGM supplies. The program will be rolled out over the next few weeks and last through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. residents who receive state or federal assistance through programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, or VA benefits are not eligible to participate.

Dexcom’s patient assistance program is just one more example of businesses stepping up to support individuals during this time of need. In recent weeks, pharmaceutical companies have also been providing assistance by reducing or limiting out-of-pocket costs for insulin. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is glad to see that individuals with T1D are receiving support to ensure their needs are met and their health is effectively managed during these challenging times. Until a cure for diabetes is found, the need for insulin and continuous glucose monitors remains a priority.

DRC continues to work toward finding a cure and improving treatment options by providing critical funding to early-career scientists. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Targeting Stem Cell-Generated Beta Cells for Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

In developing more effective treatment methods for type 1 diabetes, several approaches have targeted the disease at a cellular level. Scientists know that, on the most basic level, the disease stems from the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. However, they are unsure exactly what causes the body to mistakenly attack and destroy these cells. There have been many studies looking at how to reintroduce or stimulate these beta cells within the body in order to produce insulin naturally, but this is a difficult process and one that is hard to sustain.

A recent study may have found a way to improve the number and quality of beta cells produced for cell replacement therapy. The differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into targeted beta cells is a long, complex process that can take weeks. Even after the process is finished, there is an assortment of cells that have been produced because not all cells differentiate as desired. In addition, not all beta cells are fully functional.

Researchers found that by adding CD77, a monoclonal antibody, they can better control the differentiation of cells into specific pancreatic progenitors. Having these pancreatic progenitors present at the start of the differentiation process may lead to higher quality beta cells that are more responsive to glucose and have improved insulin secretion abilities. In addition, it may help direct differentiation meaning a more homogenous group of cells is created, which is beneficial for cell replacement therapy. Having more of the desired type of cell can also save time and money.

Being able to better control the differentiation process may improve beta cell replacement therapy options for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Developing ways for the body to once again generate its own insulin and manage blood glucose levels could change the way the disease is managed. This study was a partnership between Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Technical University of Munich (TUM), and Miltenyi Biotec.

Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection stays abreast of the latest advancements in the field and how emerging research may impact the diagnosis, treatment, and management of type 1 diabetes, as well as the search for a cure. As more about the disease is understood, researchers can build on this information. The DRC provides critical funding for early-career scientists whose research is focused on type 1 diabetes. To learn more and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could Vitamin D Help Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes?

One trend that researchers have noticed in type 1 diabetes (T1D) is that individuals with this disease tend to have some level of vitamin D deficiency. This impacts vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression, which may contribute to the development of diabetes.

A recent study found that higher levels of VDR may actually protect insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells and preserve some of their mass and function. They also found that as circulating glucose levels decreased, so did VDR levels. Maintaining a stable level of vitamin D may help counteract the disease.

Researchers are investigating the potential effectiveness of using vitamin D supplements as a prevention and treatment strategy for type 1 diabetes, and it may be beneficial for type 2 diabetes as well. They need to develop a clearer understanding of the negative regulation of VDR in individuals with the disease and how to improve VDR levels to a point where they would be more protective.

This study was conducted on mouse models, so it would need to be tested in humans as well to see if the same findings are true. However, this could be a step toward proactively reducing risk of T1D and protecting insulin-producing beta-cell function and mass. Researchers are continuing to learn more about VDR expression and its relationship to diabetes.

Diabetes Research Connection, though not involved with this study, is committed to supporting early-career scientists pursuing novel research on type 1 diabetes in order to expand the body of knowledge and help prevent or cure the disease in addition to reducing complications and improving quality of life for those living with the disease. Scientists are learning more every day. To support these efforts and find out more about current projects, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Supporting Diabetes Management Via Drone

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects people from all walks of life around the world. A challenge in managing the disease is regular access to healthcare and necessary supplies. Healthcare providers in Ireland recognized the impact of this problem even more when natural disasters such as snowstorms, hurricanes, and flooding made it difficult for patients to reach clinics for their appointments or to get medications.

As a result, researchers turned to technology as a way to potentially help patients receive the care they need. They spent more than a year working out the logistics and regulatory compliance of using drones to deliver supplies to individuals in remote areas or those cut off from access following natural disasters or other incidents such as COVID-19. The researchers had to ensure that when using the drone, they were following all aviation and aerospace regulations, as well as medical and safety regulations.

The first flight traveled around 20 km each way going from Galway, Ireland, to the Aran Islands on September 13. The Wingcopter 178 drone delivered insulin from a pharmacy to a patient’s clinician and picked up a blood sample for remote testing of HbA1c levels. This test flight demonstrated that autonomous delivery of insulin is possible.

There was a significant amount of planning, research, and collaboration that went into making the drone delivery possible, but it is a starting point for making this technology available in healthcare. The researchers needed to have backup plans in place for each step of the process, and they worked closely with a multidisciplinary team including aviation and medication regulators.

However, this successful test flight is a stepping stone toward making drone delivery a reality for patients with diabetes. This could allow patients to continue receiving life-saving insulin and other supplies even when they are unable to make it out of their home. Diabetes does not take a break during pandemics or adverse events, and there are patients who live in rural communities where access to healthcare is a challenge.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see how technology continues to improve and whether drone delivery becomes a feasible option as part of diabetes management and healthcare in general. The DRC provides funding for novel, peer-reviewed research studies focused on the prevention, cure, and improved management of type 1 diabetes. To learn more and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Could There Be More than One Form of Type 1 Diabetes?

Researchers know that there are significant differences between type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), but now they are digging a little deeper. When it comes to T1D, the disease may not affect everyone in the same way. According to a recent study, there may be more than one endotype, and a major differentiator could be age of diagnosis.

The study looked at a small sample of 19 children diagnosed with T1D within the past two years and compared age of diagnosis against amount of beta cell destruction and levels of proinsulin and C-peptides. They also compared these ratios in a group of 171 adults with T1D based on their age of diagnosis. Their results showed that children who were diagnosed before the age of 7 had much higher levels of proinsulin-insulin co-localization than those diagnosed after age 13. Individuals between ages 7 and 13 were divided and fell into one group or the other.

The researchers also compared results against CD20Hi and CD20Lo immune profile designations for each participant. Children age 7 or younger tended to be CD20Hi, while those age 13 or older were CD20Lo, and the children in between were aligned with their respective groups based on whether they were CD20Hi or CD20Lo.

These differences in proinsulin and C-peptide concentrations demonstrate a distinction in how individuals are impacted by T1D, leading to at least two separate endotypes. Understanding whether an individual has T1D endotype 1 (T1DE1) or T1D endotype 2 (T1DE2) could enable more targeted and effective treatment of the disease based on how each group responds. Individuals with T1DE1 are identified as having higher levels of beta cell loss, therefore may have more difficulty regulating blood glucose. Those with T1DE2 may retain more beta cells, and determining ways to activate and protect these cells could support improved natural insulin production.

Recognizing that T1D affects people differently is a step in the right direction toward more personalized medicine and targeted therapies. Therapeutic trials could be aimed at groups depending on age of diagnosis and specific endotype in the future as larger studies are conducted to determine the significance of these findings.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to supporting advances in research around type 1 diabetes and provides early-career scientists with critical funding for their studies. Research is focused on preventing and curing type 1 diabetes, minimizing complications, and improving quality of life for those living with the disease. Learn more and support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Artificial Pancreas App Supports Type 1 Diabetes Management

Maintaining good glycemic control is challenging when living with type 1 diabetes. Individuals must carefully monitor their blood glucose levels throughout the day, then administer the appropriate amount of insulin to try to stay within target range. This can be more difficult than it sounds. Furthermore, many people with type 1 diabetes struggle with their blood sugar dropping overnight while they are asleep.

Patients living in the UK may have access to a new artificial pancreas app that takes away some of the stress and burden of constant blood sugar management. The CamAPS FX app works in conjunction with the Dana RS insulin pump and the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor. Using a complex algorithm, the app tracks blood glucose levels, then automatically adjusts insulin administration accordingly. This reduces the demand for regular finger sticks to check blood sugar, and patients do not need to calculate how much insulin they require on their own.

The app has been approved in the UK for individuals age one and older, including pregnant women, who have type 1 diabetes. It was developed based on 13 years of clinical research conducted by Professor Roman Hovorka from the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and his team at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science. In addition, data from the app can be shared with patients’ healthcare teams allowing them to provide more personalized diabetes care.

Technology has made some significant advancements in type 1 diabetes care, and this is one more example of how it can impact management of the disease and improve health outcomes. Artificial pancreas technology is an area that researchers have been focused on improving over the years in order to give patients more options and reduce the burden of managing the disease.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see more results from use of the app and what it could mean for future diabetes management, not just in the UK but around the world. Currently the app is only available to patients at select diabetes clinics in the UK. Though not involved with this project, the DRC is committed to advancing diabetes research to help prevent and cure type 1 diabetes, minimize complications, and improve quality of life for those living with the disease. Early-career scientists can receive up to $50K in funding to support novel, peer-reviewed research projects. To learn more about current studies and contribute to these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Using Telehealth to Enhance Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes Management

Telehealth has come a long way in improving access to care. It has become even easier for patients to connect with healthcare providers without going to their office. Using available technology, a recent study out of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) examined whether management of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in pediatric patients could be improved through telehealth.

Fifty-seven patients under the age of 18 participated in the study where they were connected with a member of the research team every four, six, or eight weeks via video conference for at least one year. This was in addition to quarterly clinic visits. All of the patients had suboptimal glycemic control before the study began, and most lived at least 30 miles away from the hospital.

The program was led by Stephanie Crossen, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC Davis Health. Prior to each video call, patients sent data from their diabetes devices for Crossen and her team to review. After one year, their findings showed that “83 percent of participants completed four or more diabetes visits within a year, compared to only 21 percent prior to the study,” and “mean HbA1c decreased from 10.8 to 9.6 among participants who completed the full year.”

In addition, 93 percent of participants were highly satisfied with the program, and more participants were using technology such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). However, one area that did not change significantly was the number of diabetes-related emergency room or hospital visits.

Still, the study shows that telehealth could be a valuable intervention for children and youth with type 1 diabetes to help them better manage their disease and health outcomes. A reduction in HbA1c levels and an increase in frequency of care is encouraging. Telehealth may be one more tool for effectively supporting individuals with T1D.

Research continues to advance the understanding, treatment, and management of T1D. Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) supports these efforts as well by providing critical funding to early-career scientists studying the disease.  Researchers can receive up to $50K for novel, peer-reviewed projects aimed at preventing or curing type 1 diabetes, minimizing its complications, and improving quality of life for individuals living with the disease. To learn more, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Connect For A Cure: June 2020 Newsletter

The importance of research has been highlighted during this pandemic and our early-career scientists continue their ground-breaking, peer-reviewed research. Since November, we’ve funded 8 new research projects. Thank you for your support and for being a part of the DRC community.

Click on the link below to read more about what we’ve been up to and the impact we are making together. It takes a community to connect for a cure!

June 2020 Newsletter

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Recapping Current Research Regarding Type 1 Diabetes Development and Cardiovascular Risks

Our bodies are formed from an innumerable number of cells and molecules. Both DNA and RNA play a role in determining cells’ function and purpose. At a conference of the National Congress of the Spanish Diabetes Society, researchers revealed new studies regarding the potential role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the development of type 1 diabetes, as well as the risk of cardiovascular problems in individuals with the disease.

A recent study found that lncRNA, which are use in transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of cells and are not translated into proteins, may be involved in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. There may be some forms of lncRNAs that affect inflammation and cell death, which are factors in the development of type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Izortze Santín Gómez, a professor at the University of the Basque Country and a researcher at the Biocruces Bizkaia Research Institute is studying the fundamental characteristics of the lncRNAs and how they may affect pancreatic beta cells on a genetic-molecular level. Once this is better understood, researchers could begin modifying the lncRNAs to create a targeted therapy that increases survival rate and viability of the pancreatic beta cells.

Another study that was presented at the conference involved cardiovascular risk for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Joseph Ribalta, a professor at the Rovira i Vigili University of Reus, found that “more than 30% of heart attacks occur in people with apparently normal LDL cholesterol.” High cholesterol is a key risk factor for heart attacks. His findings have revealed that individuals with T1D may be at greater risk because “LDL particles are more numerous and smaller, that their HDLs work less effectively and/or that there are some lipoproteins (remnants) that the body has trouble eliminating.”

Identifying these potential risk factors and knowing how to test for or treat them could help reduce hidden cardiovascular risk in individuals with T1D. For instance, focusing on triglycerides rather than cholesterol may be beneficial for patients who meet certain criteria.

There is a lot of interesting work coming out of laboratories and universities around the world regarding type 1 diabetes. Researchers are constantly improving and refining their understanding of the disease and possible ways to prevent, treat, or cure it. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to contributing to this wealth of knowledge by providing critical funding to early-career scientists pursuing novel research studies focused on type 1 diabetes. Learn more about current projects and how to help by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Increasing Cell Protection Against Immune System Attacks

One of the challenges researchers have faced with using cell therapy to treat type 1 diabetes is that the body’s immune system may still attack and destroy transplanted cells. This process may be slightly delayed depending on the approach used, but it often still occurs. That means that patients may still need to rely on immune suppression medications in conjunction with cell therapy. However, immunosuppression can increase risk of infection or other complications.

A recent study found that targeting highly durable cells that have the ability to escape immune attacks and survive may be key in developing a more effective treatment for type 1 diabetes. Dr. Judith Agudo has identified stem cells with this “immune privilege” and is working to determine exactly what contributes to this level of protection and how to replicate it with beta cells. Dr. Agudo is an assistant professor in the department of immunology at Harvard Medical School and in the department of cancer immunology and virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

If scientists can engineer insulin-producing beta cells that have the ability to avoid attacks from the immune system while still performing their intended functions, this could be a huge step forward in potentially treating type 1 diabetes. The beta cells would be able to stimulate insulin production without requiring the patient to take immune suppression medications, meaning their immune system could continue to function as normal and fend off infection.

Once Dr. Agudo is able to develop these durable beta cells, they will be tested in animal models, followed by humans a few years later. It is important to conduct thorough testing to ensure this method is both safe and effective. If it is, the goal would be to eventually make it available to anyone who requires the use of insulin.

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see how this study evolves and what it could mean for the future of diabetes treatment. While not involved in this study, the DRC plays an integral role in providing critical funding for early career scientists focused on research for type 1 diabetes. Scientists continue to advance understanding of the disease and potential approaches to improve diagnosis, treatment, management, and quality of life for individuals living with type 1 diabetes. Learn more about current DRC projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Generating Pancreatic Islet Organoids to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

In individuals with type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells. Without a naturally occurring supply of insulin to manage glucose, blood-glucose levels can quickly spiral out of control leading to hypo- or hyperglycemia. If left untreated, this can become potentially fatal.

A recent study found a way to generate an abundance of pancreatic islet organoids that are glucose-responsive and insulin-secreting. As such, they can help with management and potential reversal of type 1 diabetes. Researchers identified a cluster of protein C receptor positive (Procr+) cells in the pancreas of adult mice. These cells have the ability to differentiate into alpha, beta, omega, and pancreatic polypeptide (PP) cells, with beta cells being the most abundant.

The Procr+ islet cells can then be cultured to generate a multitude of islet-like organoids. When the organoids were then be transplanted into adult diabetic mice, they were found to reverse type 1 diabetes. More research is necessary to determine if human pancreatic islets contain these same Procr+ endocrine progenitors and a similar process could be used to treat type 1 diabetes in humans.

As scientists delve deeper into the cellular impact of the disease and how different cells respond and can be manipulated, it opens new doors to potential treatments or cures for type 1 diabetes. Though not involved in this study, this is the type of cutting-edge research that the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to supporting. Early-career scientists can receive up to $50,000 in funding through DRC for novel, peer-reviewed research aimed at preventing and curing type 1 diabetes, minimizing complications, and improving the quality of life for individuals living with the disease. To learn more and support these efforts, visit https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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