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As we embark on a brand new calendar year, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on some advances in type 1 diabetes research from the previous 12 months. We’re closer to a cure than we were one year ago, and we have laid the groundwork for further success in 2018.

In 2017, JDRF drove breakthrough results and enabled research which led to significant advances in treatment options and progress towards prevention and cure research. Last year, JDRF supported 75 clinical trials globally, including five large clinical trials in Australia funded by the JDRF-led Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN).

JDRF’s investments are delivering on the promise of making life with T1D better, driving innovation and research around the world and here in Australia.

Research breakthrough findings at home

  • The JDRF-funded Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Cardio-Renal Intervention Trial (AdDIT) found that drugs used to treat blood pressure and cholesterol in adults may reduce future risk of kidney disease in young people with T1D.
  • Australia’s first national T1D database funded by the T1DCRN and ADDN, highlighted an urgent need to support teens in managing their blood glucose levels. Managing T1D in teens is even more challenging, due to puberty and other life changes. We need new and better technology for teens and all people with T1D to live healthier lives. This is just the beginning of what ADDN can offer the field of T1D research. Thanks to the T1DCRN investment, in future we will be able to compare and determine how T1D progresses over time and the effect of different treatments and therapies on health outcomes.
  • JDRF researchers at Monash University had a research breakthrough in their lab, finding that a specialised high fibre diet protected against T1D in mice. Diet is one of many environmental factors being investigated to develop preventative strategies against T1D. The group hopes to test their findings in clinical trials.

  • A T1DCRN-funded study found that young people with T1D using a predictive low-glucose management system (PLGM) experienced greater reductions in time spent in hypoglycaemia than those who used a standard pump. The PLGM system can stop delivery of insulin up to 30 minutes before a predicted ‘hypo’. Advances in technology have the potential to improve health and quality of life of people with T1D and this is an step closer to an artificial pancreas system. The T1DCRN is currently funding a further advance along the path – a large hybrid closed loop system trial – which aims to increase ‘time in target blood glucose level range’ for people with T1D.

A global wrap up

Highlights from the past year around the world include:

  • Demonstrating through the JDRF-funded CONCEPTT trial that use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) during pregnancy led to significantly better health outcomes for mothers with T1D and their babies – findings that could lead to an improved standard of care for expecting mothers with T1D around the world.
  • Confirming through the JDRF-supported REMOVAL trial that the drug metformin has beneficial effects on cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes in adults with longstanding T1D. These results are extremely relevant, as heart disease is a predominant complication in people with T1D. The T1DCRN funded the only sub-study of this international study, in recognition of the expertise of the Australian investigators in clinical and laboratory research. Professor Alicia Jenkins who is currently leading a T1DCRN-funded trial led the Australian arm of the REMOVAL study.
  • Establishing the JDRF-organised Type 1 Diabetes Outcomes Program, which published a consensus statement that identifies and defines clinically meaningful T1D outcomes beyond  HbA1c. This could lead to an improved standard of care, more efficient clinical trials and improved reimbursement options.
  • Results of a JDRF-funded, landmark trial testing cancer drug imatinib found that the drug slowed the progression of T1D and the loss of the body’s own insulin production. This trial is ongoing.
  • Results from the part-JDRF funded TEDDY study showed that early screening of children for T1D antibodies before they show any symptoms could dramatically reduce the risk of life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The study also found that children diagnosed early needed less insulin in the first year of diagnosis. Australia has its very own globally unique prevention study, which investigates environmental factors of T1D. The ENDIA (Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity) study follows children through the early years of life, with regular screenings. If you’d like to be part of solving the mysteries of T1D, go to the ENDIA website. ENDIA is funded by the T1DCRN in partnership with the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Pregnancy and CGM

  • The International Diabetes TrialNet Oral Insulin Prevention Trial, the largest and longest oral insulin prevention trial ever conducted, sought to answer whether treatment at early stages of disease can delay progression to the point where symptoms appear. Oral insulin did not have an effect on T1D development in most of the trial participants, though in one group T1D was prevented for a further 31 months on average. This warrants further investigation, and highlights that T1D develops differently in different people.

And a significant milestone….

In 2017, we celebrated 10 years since the first Australian islet transplant. Islet transplantation is a step towards a cure for T1D, providing insulin-producing cells through a transplant to eligible people. This procedure is life changing, and was made possible thanks to Government support driven by JDRF advocates.  JDRF continues to fund a variety of research projects in the area to try and broaden the reach of this procedure so it can benefit more people.

We’ve achieved so much, but there’s so much more to do
Our research progress in 2017 is down to your generous donations, and the T1DCRN funding that our advocates secured. To maintain the pace of research and reach a cure more quickly, we’ll continue to need your help. In 2018 we’ll be calling on you to help build support for further research funding that is focused on delivering patient impact to people with T1D. Research holds the key.

More about the T1DCRN
The Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network (T1DCRN) is a collaborative initiative dedicated to creating positive change in the lives of people with T1D through accelerating clinical research for cure, treatment and prevention.The T1DCRN is led by JDRF Australia and is funded through a Special Research Initiative of the Australian Research Council.

Explore the T1DCRN website here.

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