We can always debate what a ‘cure’ is for diabetes; considering a smart machine, even a wickedly smart one, as a cure might be relevant for some and not for others. This is why medical technology and research continue to make advancements year by year to bring out new horizons for a cure and better management of diabetes. Likewise, this has also been a remarkable year in the history of diabetic research and studies with mind-blowing advancements coming to the surface – from Betaine study that affirms the role of dietary supplements in managing diabetes to the study of reducing abnormalities of hyaluronan tissue component that causes damage to the insulin-producing cells. Here are the 6 studies of the year that you need to keep an eye on, whether you are a doctor, a Type 1 diabetic (T1D) or a Type 1 diabetic’s caretaker or family member.
JDRF collaborating with Lilly for Encapsulated Cell Therapies
Funded by JDRF, a collaboration between Eli Lilly and Sigilon Therapeutics continued in pre-clinical stages in 2019 to provide insulin-producing islet cells (contained in capsules) that would be placed into the abdomen of a person with Type 1 diabetes to make for the insulin requirements. It will last for a year without the need for immunosuppressant medicines. Behind this type of cell replacement treatment, the successful attempt of elimination of the body’s immune system response could change everything in diabetes T1 treatment. Although human studies are likely still far out on the horizon, this step into islet cell encapsulation means that a cure for diabetes may be closer than ever.
Photo credit: Canva
ViaCyte: Stem Cell Control Trials in Europe
Instead of a short-term fix of injecting insulin, the clinical trial team hopes to address the underlying problem of diabetes by replacing the beta cells ‘pancreatic progenitor cell product’ themselves with the hope of an eventual cure for T1D. It began in Europe in 2019, allowing T1D patents to receive a subtherapeutic dose of a human stem cell-derived product designed as a beta cell replacement. The device, implanted into the body during a minor surgical procedure, is about the size of a credit card.
Diabetes Research Institute: Vitamin D & Omega-3 Study
This research focuses on inflammation problems associated with T1D. This study will compare the effectiveness of Vitamin D and Omega-3 medications to determine if it helps in slowing or stopping the progression of the autoimmune issues in T1D. In the coming year, the study will aim to provide research on children and adults, with the hope of reducing inflammation, increasing insulin sensitivity, and stopping the progression of autoimmunity.
Photo credit: Canva
Diabetes Research Connection: HA Cell Research
The new amongst all is Diabetes Research Connection, a non-profit organization that has been funding diabetes research projects since 2015. This year they are working on a project to discover changes that take place in human islets that will indicate how to block diabetes before the symptoms appear. It specifically focuses on hyaluronan (HA), a tissue component present during inflammation. HA is elevated during the early stages of T1D and gradually damages the insulin-producing cells. Researchers aim to study non-diabetic pancreatic tissue in to understand the nature of HA cells and its abnormalities to eventually figure out a way to stop them.
JDRF: Funding Therapeutic Antibodies Program by Pandion
JDRF teamed with Pandion Therapeutics is aiming to launch trials for autoimmune and inflammatory issues specifically related to type 1 diabetes. The study aims to develop tethers that are islet-specific and can be paired with certain immunomodulators (previously developed by Pandion). These tissue-targeted immunotherapies are expected to offer safer treatment options, particularly for children living with T1D.
Joslin Diabetes Center: Betaine Study
This study observes the effect of betaine supplements whether they positively affect those with prediabetes or not; measured by liver fat, insulin sensitivity, and blood vessel function. Depending on the results, the study could provide an opportunity to lower the risk of developing diabetes through the use of a simple dietary supplement that has betaine which is found in grains, beets, and other vegetables.
Photo credit: Nordic Life Sciences
Do make the notes for the progression of this researches because staying informed is the key!