Searching for a cure for type 1 diabetes through clinical trials

type 1 diabetesMedical costs are 2.3 times higher for a person who has been diagnosed with diabetes. The most common treatment for Type 1 diabetes is through insulin injections. Yet, the injections cannot prevent the dramatic swings in blood sugar levels that can affect quality of life.

Current research into complexity and alternative treatments is directed toward control of blood sugar and management of symptoms through the following ways:

  • Medications that influence the kidney’s role in reducing blood sugar.
  • Reducing the dramatic swings in blood sugar with insulin analogs and other drugs.
  • Alternative delivery methods, such as oral or inhaled, may alleviate the pain related to multiple injections per day.
  • Lowering the costs and frequency of use associated with medications.

Because of the efficacy shown in type 2 diabetes research, two new classes of drugs are being tested on type 1 patients. The first class is SGLT-2 (Sodium-glucose cotransporter). In type 2 diabetics, SGLT-2 “reduced total mortality by 32%,” remarked Louis B. Chaykin, MD, a physician and endocrinologist at Meridien Research. “Mortality due to cardiovascular disease was reduced by 38%. This was a study that involved over 7,000 participants around the world!” The results were significant enough to encourage studies on type 1 diabetics. “Also, the GLP-1 class of drugs demonstrated a significant reduction in the cardiovascular disease and total mortality.” Clucagon-like peptide-1 is another class of medication that targets the incretin system.

Despite the advances in therapies for diabetes, such as different types of insulin and mechanical devices to monitor and deliver medications, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in America. For many years, research has been diligently at work to find a cure.

Finding the Cure

TrialNet is a global network of researchers, finding new approaches to prevent or delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. Sponsored by the National Institute of Health, the clinical trials network also supports natural history and genetics studies and has been actively collecting and sharing data on type 1 diabetes since 2000.

Using a variety of genetic and laboratory data, researchers are able to identify high-risk individuals, who will eventually develop type 1 diabetes. Multiple experimental therapies are being tested on these high-risk individuals to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

Adult stem cell research and lab created cells are also promising treatments for the replacement of islet cells.

Another promising treatment for diabetics is the replacement of islet cells. This approach involves the introduction of a large number of donor islet cells that replace the lost insulin production in type 1 diabetes.  Unfortunately, only a very small population of diabetics can partake in this approach.

A major development in the cure for type 1 diabetes comes from understanding how the immune system attacks pancreatic islet cells. The immune system turns against insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The challenge remains in understanding the body’s immune response and how to block or trick it from damaging endocrine cells.

Resources

American Diabetes Association Journals
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
SGLT-2 Inhibitors
Long acting GLP-1 receptors

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Over 1 million people live with type 1 diabetes and each year, 40,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease. Dr. Louis Chaykin has treated a wide range of patients with diabetes and authored many studies on the latest therapeutic medications. He has also worked very closely with the American Diabetes Association through research, promoting awareness, and fundraising. For more information on Meridien Research or the work we do with type 1 diabetes, please contact us at 888-777-8839.