A World Without Diabetes

Research Highlights

John Brady depicts a world without diabetes at JDRF event

Last month, JDRF hosted its Annual Research Update at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. Keynote speaker John Brady gave an enlightening speech titled, Less Until None: A World Without Diabetes.

 Brady lead into the discussion of a transition from a single focus of the cure to a multiple faceted approach. “We have a plan to get there, and we have achieved milestones,” he said. Researchers are still executing a portfolio that was started in 2004 along with clinical trials. JDRF while still steadfast in finding a cure understands patient’s quality of life is as important.  

People in attendance were intrigued by the way Brady divided his speech into three parts: cure, treat and prevent. Each segment described a method that researchers use to document research.

John BradyBrady used lamens terms to describe the basic cure for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which was to restore beta cell function and the normal physiology of the body. He went on to explain the three ways to restore beta cells:

  1. Regeneration- take cells from the body and create cells that will mimic the original ones; research to understand the signals (some researchers have targeted those signals) in your body indicating that you need more beta cells; create new cells and extend their life cycle
  2. Reprogramming- “Developmental microbiology” how stem cells can become other body cells; the type of protein they come in contact with determines the cell type;
    1. Transcription factors – test with 3 transcription cells (TC)
    2.  TC + liver cells = glucose sensitive insulin-producing cells
    3. Replacement- (Most complicated method) Implantation of surrogate beta cells. The cells could be of beta cell origin, and perhaps (conditionally) immortalized to allow for unlimited expansion in culture or in non–beta cells manipulated to produce insulin; Alternatively, they could originate from stem cells, whether adult or embryo, and have been induced to differentiate into beta cells; Looking for a vaccine that could hopefully be given only one time for life

As far as treatment, Brady mentioned a number of various devices, drugs and experiments that are being tested to possibly minimize complications.

Treatment therapies:

 Biomarkers (Long-term)

  • Treat to range approach: automatically infuse insulin by the readings of a continuous monitor
  • Glucose control: Artificial pancreas – insulin pump, continuous monitor, mathematical device that determines the required dosage of insulin (use of type 2 drugs in appropriate doses)

“Prevention is the cure for the next generation,” said Brady as he closed his speech.

The way that the immune system is trained is dependent on what is in our gastrointestinal tract. He also expressed how JDRF is about $40 million underfunded this year, and he’s expecting the number to double in the coming year. As a result of the lack of funding, Brady estimated that it would take up to 20 years to completely manifest the plans to treat and prevent T1D.

 Prevention Therapies:

  •  Goal line: a device that produces blood sugars in T1Ds which are virtually identical to that in a healthy individual
  • Encapsulated replacement beta cells are good for 1-2 years
  • Analysis of stool samples in which you can identify strains of bacteria that are missing and determine if it’s from a type 1 sample or not
  • Combined sensor and infusion set, to be developed by BDC and JDRF, is expected to be available in stores soon
  • Insulin off device: when the insulin goes beneath a certain level it shuts off for 2 hours to allow the insulin level to balance out
  • Smart insulin: competitive binding

Brady gave some facts about T1D and its relevance in our world. He stated that only 4% of the general population will get T1D, which can multiply by 8 if transferred from mother to child, 12 from the father, and 20 to 50 if a sibling contracts the disease.  

He went on to mention that in normal body functions, insulin goes up as amylin and glucagon go down, but in a T1D insulin goes up as amylin and glucagon go up. Brady’s speech left many guests with a better understanding of T1D and more hope for a cure.

David Faulkner, JDRF supporter, said, “I learned so much I never knew; he should do TED talks! People who don’t know about T1D could learn by the way he broke everything down.”

Brady’s call to action for the JDRF community was to get more involved with local chapters, invite more people, reclaim those that have stopped supporting, and to dig deep to donate more money towards the cause.