Ground breaking type 1 diabetes research projects in the U.S.

July 06, 2022

JDRF is committed to not only supporting cutting-edge type 1 diabetes (T1D) research but also staying on top of the latest T1D research developments across other areas of the world.

We were thrilled to attend (virtually) the 2022 American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Meeting held in New Orleans last month, to learn about some exciting and innovative research projects from some of the brightest T1D researchers in the U.S.

Here are two ground breaking research projects we learned about at the meeting:

The Vertex VX-880 trial

The Vertex VX-880 clinical trial led by Dr. James Markmann, involved injecting ‘new’ pancreatic beta-cells into two patients with T1D. These stem cell-derived beta-cells then act as a replacement for the patient’s own ineffective beta-cells.

Stem cells are ‘blank’ cells which can be developed into different types of cells including insulin-producing beta-cells.

Dr. Markmann combined this treatment with immunosuppressive therapy to prevent the patient’s immune system from attacking the new beta-cells.

This was the first trial to successfully demonstrate insulin independence with a 30% reduction in insulin usage for one of the patients.

Dr. Markmann is also working to create a device that would eliminate the need for immunosuppressants while on this treatment, which would increase the quality of life for those living with T1D, who often also deal with the unpleasant side-effects associated with such medications.

A real potential of this treatment is the development of a therapy that not only allows those living with T1D to be free of insulin, administered by injection or pump, and not to have to take strong drugs long term.

Screening and prevention of T1D

Dr. Emily Sims, Dr. Kimber Simmons, and Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson presented on screening and prevention of T1D.

While the ADA Standards of Care currently recommend screening for first-degree family members of people living with T1D, researchers, healthcare professionals, and the broader T1D community are calling for general population screening to become available worldwide. In fact, very recent news of a general population screening pilot for T1D here in Australia, supported by JDRF, was announced this week.

Screening has been of growing interest due to a drug called Teplizumab, which targets the T-cells of the immune system to prevent the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas being destroyed. Teplizumab could be the first drug approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that significantly delays the onset of type 1 diabetes.

This drug works hand in hand with general population screening to detect T1D, which could enable earlier intervention and treatment, and Teplizumab holds the potential to be a key part of this preventative treatment.

These are just a few of the exciting research projects taking place in the T1D research space. We loved hearing about the research projects happening around the world aiming to combat this condition and are excited to follow along their progress as we all work towards a world without T1D.