Type 1 Diabetes has no cure — yet. However, JDRF is determined to raise awareness, increase funds and take part in creating innovative technology until a cure is ultimately discovered.
To expand awareness around the region, JDRF has taken to the road and Thursday, the southwest chapter of the JDRF Research Road Tour made a stop in Portsmouth at KDMC.
“We had a really good turnout,” Malissa Sarver, registered dietitian-KDMC Ohio, said. “We had 59 people total that were there.”
John Lyons, a JDRF Research Information Volunteer (RIV), was the guest speaker at the event. According to Sarver, Lyons has a 10-year-old daughter with Type-1 Diabetes. She was diagnosed when she was 3. Sarver said many of the people associated have a personal connection to T1D.
Before the speech became technical, JDRF passed out information regarding its upcoming walk at Kings Island, which will take place June 3 and the local support group Ohio River Valley T1D have a walk team “The Sweet Life”.
During Lyons’ speech, he talked about current technology and research surrounding Type 1 Diabetes. He talked about a company called Viacyte and how they’re using a technique called Beta Cell Encapsulation.
“This involves therapies involving wrapping insulin producing cells in a protective barrier before implanting them into the body. The protective membrane is important because Type-1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease and destroys the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas-so hopefully this membrane will protect these insulin producing cells,” Sarver said.
Sarver said JDRF Southwest will have a special guest presenter and encapsulation clinical trial participant Josiah Hammer speaking in Cincinnati April 9.
Lyons also talked about smart insulin, which automatically adjusts to what the glucose levels are doing — if it’s going higher, if it’s going lower.
Another exciting technology Lyons’ mention was the artificial pancreas, which is sometimes referred to as a “closed loop system.”
“It’s where it uses an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, so the person uses two sites,” Sarver said. “John was saying that it adjusts automatically for what the blood sugar is doing during the day and the person wearing it would need to enter in the carbohydrates from the food that they eat for an insulin bolus.”
Medtronic has been developing the artificial pancreas which is the MiniMed 670G and the public will have the opportunity to purchase the device this spring as it has been FDA approved as of September 2016.
As far as the technology as whole with the closed loop system, Sarver believes it’s a good first step and will only improve with time.
“This is just the first generation,” Sarver said. “I anticipate there to be more features as they become more enhanced and as time goes on. John (Lyons) was saying in the past five years, the research with type one diabetes has really just taken off.
“For the team at JDRF their ultimate goal is to literally work themselves out of a job. Their main goal is a cure. But in the meantime, we want better technology as well.”
Sarver is well aware of the technology as her son has Type-1 Diabetes, which also happens to be her personal connection. Her son uses a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and insulin pump, which she has described as “life changing.”
“If you have tools like these and use them, you’re likely going to have better management of glucose levels,” Sarver said. “So, if we can keep people with Type-1 Diabetes as healthy as they can be, that’s the situation they’ll want to be in for the day when a cure does eventually happen.”
JDRF has always been a research foundation and continues to strive for that purpose. However, in the early 1970s, JDRF use to stand for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. According to Sarver, the terminology “Juvenile Diabetes” is inaccurate today, which is why JDRF is not an acronym today but the name.
Sarver said the wording juvenile diabetes creates a misconception.
“A lot of times, people think that Type-1 Diabetes is something only kids get,” Sarver said. “A lot of people even think they’ll outgrow this. No, this is lifelong. Their beta cells are destroyed. This is permanent, unless we find a cure.”
Another misconception is that adults do not develop Type-1 Diabetes, according to Sarver, but adults can be diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes as well.
“I have a friend who was diagnosed a 27 and another friend who was diagnosed at 47,” Sarver said. “So, we kind of want to end those misconceptions so people are diagnosed in time as a late diagnosis can kill someone due to DKA or diabetic ketoacidosis.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.