JDRF-supported research is at the forefront of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 73rd Scientific Sessions this year, June 21-24 in Chicago, with 13 oral presentations, 14 poster presentations, three symposium discussions, one scientific workshop, more than a dozen meetings with research partners, and 20 JDRF staff and senior leadership in attendance to represent scientific progress related to type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF will also host an exhibit booth with information about the organization, its research priorities, valuable resources, conference events, and more.
This year, JDRF has seen particularly exciting advancements in four key areas of research: beta cell restoration, beta cell stress, the artificial pancreas, and T1D prevention and global epidemiology. Below is an outline of highlights from these areas that will be prevalent at the ADA conference. Whether or not you will be in attendance at the conference, this outline is a guide through the landscape of some of the most promising T1D research advancements over the past year.
Beta Cell Restoration
Beta cell restoration is an important area of research supported by JDRF to address gaps in research and development. Aimed at restoring beta cell function in large numbers of individuals, priority research in this area includes growing beta cells from precursor stem cells, proliferation of residual or newly generated pancreatic beta cells, reprogramming of other cell types (liver, acinar, alpha cells) into beta cells, and targeting survival of residual or newly generated beta cells. The following JDRF-funded studies being presented at this year’s ADA conference have led to four unique ways in which beta cells can be restored.
June 21: Kimberly Gooding, Vanderbilt University, will give an oral presentation of the JDRF-funded study “Connective Tissue Growth Factor (CTGF) enhances beta-cell restoration.” Identifying factors that stimulate endogenous beta cell regeneration could facilitate beta cell mass expansion in T1D. This research showed that CTGF can induce beta cell replication in the setting of beta cell destruction like that associated with T1D.
June 23: K.H. Hu He, Broad Institute, will present a poster on the JDRF-funded study “Small-molecule inducers of the beta-cell master gene Pax4 in pancreatic alpha cells.” Previous studies showed that the misexpression of the Pax4 gene in alpha cells converted them to beta cells, leading researchers to study whether they could create this conversion to restore beta cells in people with T1D. A screen found 80 small molecules that may serve as tools to demonstrate alpha-to-beta cell transdifferentiation in human cells for the first time and could provide a way to restore functional beta cell mass in T1D.
June 23: H. Kim, KAIST, will present a poster on the JDRF-funded study “Serotonin regulates glucose stimulated insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells during pregnancy.” In response to the increased insulin resistance during pregnancy pancreatic islets undergo not only an increase in beta cell proliferation but also an increase in glucose stimulated insulin secretion. This research showed that serotonin receptor signaling plays an essential role in the increase of insulin secretion during pregnancy and may provide a direction for T1D restoration therapies.
June 23: I. Purwana, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, will present a poster on the JDRF-funded study “GABA promotes beta-cell proliferation and survival via mechanism involving activation of Akt, ERK and CREB.” The research focuses on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid produced by beta cells in the pancreas that helps them function, playing a role in regulating insulin and secreting glucagon. This research showed that GABA exerts its effects by promoting beta cell proliferation via three signaling pathways and promotes beta cell survival via inhibition of cell death.
Beta Cell Stress
In T1D, pancreatic beta cells die from a misguided autoimmune attack, but how and why that happens is still unclear. Research has shown that these beta cells become stressed early in the disease process, leading to their demise. JDRF is supporting studies to explore what exactly happens to the beta cells and why—key insights that could lead to possible treatments and preventions for T1D down the line. A symposium on Friday, June 21, from 2 pm – 4 pm (“Beta Cell Failure in Type 1 Diabetes – Cause or Consequences?”) will explore four studies related to understanding the role of beta cell stress in the T1D process; the first three of which are by JDRF-supported investigators:
Artificial Pancreas Project
JDRF launched the Artificial Pancreas Project in 2005 to drive the development and approval of automated technologies to help people with T1D maintain better control of their blood-glucose levels. The organization’s leadership and support have radically shifted the artificial pancreas landscape, accelerating the development of faster-acting insulin, better continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology, more versatile hormone pumps, and software that could help tie these devices together. JDRF is committed to supporting both near- and long-term advancements to artificial pancreas systems that could vastly improve the lives of people with T1D. Below are several artificial pancreas-related studies being highlighted at this year’s ADA conference, all of which center around the acceleration of clinical trials.
June 21 – Animas Corporation will present findings from the second phase of its JDRF-supported human clinical trials of a first-generation closed loop insulin delivery system, showing the system’s capability to maintain safe glucose levels overnight. This progress, made possible through collaborations with JDRF and others, represents a leap forward in ensuring the safety and efficacy of artificial pancreas systems.
June 22 – Diabetes Care Symposium: Diabetes Care’s second annual ADA symposium will feature five papers, chosen from more than 150 submissions, which will be featured in a special edition of the publication’s July issue. One of the five papers is on JDRF-1, an artificial pancreas outpatient study led by Boris Kovatchev, professor at the University of Virginia, and funded by JDRF.
June 23 – Ronald J. Pettis of BD Technologies will present a poster on the company’s JDRF-funded study on insulin infusion, titled “High Sensitivity Occlusion Detection Using Fluid Pressure Monitoring During Basal Insulin Infusion.” The research shows the potential for blockage in the infusion sets used by people with T1D using insulin pumps, and helps to document the need for improvements in the technology. The development of better infusion sets is the basis of JDRF’s joint program with BD, as they will help make artificial pancreas systems more effective and reliable. JDRF and BD recently announced an extension of their collaboration, in support of the development of a single optimized device that would combine insulin infusion and CGM without the need for multiple in-dwelling catheters.
June 23 – JDRF/NIH Closed Loop Research Meeting (Artificial Pancreas): A public-private partnership between JDRF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is helping to drive artificial pancreas progress toward tangible results. Hosted jointly by JDRF and the NIH, this special meeting on the artificial pancreas will include an in-depth progress report, a panel discussion with researchers and scientists, and other presentations on advancements in the field.
Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes and Global Epidemiology
The prevalence of T1D around the world is expanding, and becoming an increasing burden on public health and healthcare financing, which is why JDRF prioritizes research aimed at understanding the epidemiology of the disease in order to develop possible interventions. Science continues to advance as JDRF and others nurture this important area of T1D research. Below are two fascinating events highlights from this year’s ADA conference focused around prevention.
June 21 – Joint ADA/JDRF Symposium – Global Epidemiology of Type 1 Diabetes and Implications for Public Health: ADA and JDRF are once again co-presenting a special joint session at this year’s conference. This session will highlight the epidemiology of T1D, particularly in less developed parts of the world. Two talks will explore the epidemiology of T1D in low- and middle-income countries (Jaakko Tuomilehto of the University of Helsinki, Finland) and the quality of healthcare delivery in those areas (John Yudkin of University College London, United Kingdom). Two others will detail findings from the TEDDY Trial and DPT-1/TrialNet.
June 22 – China Medical Tribune: Updating Diabetes Research in China – From Bench to Real World: This annual session will give a detailed view of diabetes in China, which has the largest diabetes population in the world. An annual presence at ADA, the China Medical Tribune session provides an in-depth look at the impact of diabetes in China. Three studies will be highlighted in this year’s session—on T1D, type 2 diabetes, and latent autoimmune diabetes.
The progress being made in these and other areas of T1D research is both fascinating and encouraging. JDRF will continue to build off of new understandings of this complex disease, and to support vital research.
Journalists/media: For more detail about any of the topics above, please visit www.jdrf.org, or contact Tara Wilcox-Ghanoonparvar (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange an interview with one of JDRF’s researchers.
ADA conference attendees: If you are attending the ADA conference and would like to connect with JDRF leadership and researchers, visit JDRF at Booth 1581 in the exhibit hall or please contact:
Vice President, Communications, JDRF
Director, External Communications, JDRF
Research Marketing & Communications