Until we find a cure, we are working hard to improve the quality of life of people living with type 1 diabetes. Our research into treating type 1 is often the easiest to understand. You might have heard of some of the things we have done already because they affect the day-to-day lives of people with type 1 diabetes.
Keeping glucose levels under control is one of the most difficult things people with type 1 diabetes have to contend with every day. We know that good glucose control reduces the risk of developing long term complications, so we want to make it as convenient and painless as possible to keep glucose levels under tight control. So we are funding research looking into easier ways to administer insulin and developing automatic systems that can control insulin delivery and blood glucose levels by itself.
These automatic systems are sometimes called an ‘Artificial Pancreas’. This is because the technology will eventually be able to act just like the beta cells in the pancreas should, by sensing changes in glucose levels and releasing insulin in response to these changes. The systems all include a continuous glucose monitor to provide minute to minute information on how glucose levels are changing in the body, an insulin pump to release insulin when it is needed and a computer programme, or algorithm, to work out how much insulin should be given at any moment in time.
Automated glucose control therapies would give people with type 1 diabetes freedom from the enormous burden that comes with having to stick to a rigorous schedule of multiple daily injections and finger prick blood tests.
Although today's glucose management systems have reduced the risk of developing complications, an artificial pancreas systems will reduce these risks still further, unfortunately, some people do still develop long term complications of living with type 1 diabetes. These include problems with their eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
So, to keep people with type 1 diabetes as healthy as possible JDRF also funds research that looks into ways to manage, delay or, better still, prevent, the development of the complications associated with type 1. Treating or preventing complications will allow people with type 1 diabetes to lead longer, healthier lives.
One clinical trial that we are funding to try and reduce complications is called REMOVAL. This research team is giving people who are at risk of complications a drug called metformin (a drug usually used to treat type 2 diabetes) as well as their regular insulin treatment to see if it can protect blood vessels from being damaged. Protecting blood vessels from damage will reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Professor David Dunger tells us about his clinical trial AdDIT
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