On Saturday, I attended the JDRF Research Summit in DC. It was my first time attending an event like this and I loved it. I’ve raised money for JDRF through the Walk for the Cures, but this event proved how valuable those donations were, showcasing how their funds are put to good use, and encouraged me to keep supporting and donating to JDRF. The first speaker, Bethany Salmon, Senior Manager for Research Business Development from JDRF, discussed JDRF’s strategy of forming partnerships to turn Type One into Type None. A lot of what she discussed can be found on JDRF’s website. I definitely suggest you check it out because there are so many great developments going on now that I honestly had no idea about.
Next up was Dr. Ly, professor at Stanford University, who presented on “Closing the Loop on a Good Night’s Sleep.” Looking at the schedule, this was the talk I was most excited to hear because I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep (CGM alert wakes me at least three times a night because of highs and lows). I thought she was going to tell me some magic tip on how to avoid my CGM from waking me up a bunch overnight, but the talk was even more impressive. She discussed a trial at a diabetes camp, where teens tried out a closed loop system overnight for two weeks. Basically the insulin pump combined with a continuous glucose monitor controlled how much insulin each kid received overnight. When the insulin pump saw the kid’s blood sugar getting higher, it would increase the amount of insulin he/she was getting and when the blood sugar started to fall, it would decrease the insulin. The results from the trial were amazing. The kids’ blood sugars stayed in great control and hypoglycemia was essentially eradicated. I think the average glucose overnight was 120. I was envious of this trial and I can’t wait for this to become available so I can finally get a good night’s rest! As a side note, I know I need to do basal testing overnight again but it’s such a pain.
My other favorite talk of the day was by Kelly Close, Editor-in-Chief at DiaTribe. She discussed Diabetes Technology and she honestly has me excited for the future and what could be coming out down the road (besides a cure). She mentioned a lot of great stuff and I don’t think I would do it justice by trying to recap it all so go to diaTribe’s website to learn more. Another side note, I had never read diaTribe before and now I think it’s my new favorite diabetes related website, a lot of great info!
The other talks for the day were equally as impressive as the ones I mentioned above but more scientific, which is why I’m not going to attempt to recap them in any detail. Dr. Gonder-Frederick touched on “Living with Diabetes: a Psychological Perspective” and among the many great points she made, she mentioned that diabetes is the most difficult condition for patients to manage. I definitely agree! Dr. Tisch discussed “Reversing Diabetes” and his work proved that he was essentially able to reverse diabetes in mice. However, mice and humans are quite different so a human cure is a ways away, but at least it was promising that he was able to reverse diabetes in mice. Maybe a cure isn’t too far away, 5 more years right? Dr. Brandon discussed “Developing an Encapsulated Cell Therapy for Diabetes” and Dr. Miller discussed “Approaches to the Cure: Nanoscience and Immunology.” These were also interesting although a little over my head. My husband had to translate a little bit of what they were talking about for me to understand. I think the main point of the encapsulated cell therapy is implanting new beta cells into a pancreas within a device that keeps pathogen T-cell out, protecting them. While the “Reversing Diabetes” talk was optimistic, I think Dr. Brandon’s path to a cure might be more geared to already diagnosed Type 1 diabetics who are out of the “honeymoon” phase.
The talks were all very impressive and exciting for what’s to come down the road for Type 1 diabetes. However, I think my favorite part of the day was talking to the people at the conference. I met Stephen from Happy-Medium. I believe he was the one that actually told me about this conference so I am very grateful. I plan on making this an annual trip up to DC for the conference now. Stephen is the first person from the DOC I’ve met and I was very excited to finally meet him! He has done a great job of recapping the summit, so check out his posts (Part One, Part Two, and Part Three)!
In addition to meeting Stephen, I also talked to a few diabetics that were sitting at my table. A twenty-something guy was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a teenager and was telling me how open he was with his diabetes. Everyone knew he had it and those that we closest to him knew how to give him his glucagon shot and even practiced giving him insulin shots! I was amazed by this because when I was a teenager and in college, I basically acted like I didn’t have diabetes and I’m not sure any of my friends would have known how to give me a glucagon shot or even to give it to me! I was very impressed with him and his openness. Also at my table were two parents. Their son was diagnosed in August and was approaching his second birthday in a month. I felt for these parents as they were struggling to catch up on all things diabetes related. They mentioned having a great pediatric endocrinologist which made me happy to hear especially considering their son is so young. And I thought it was so great that they attended the conference to learn more about their son’s condition, even if it was a little overwhelming for them. They asked me a lot of questions and I hope my answers brought some sort of comfort to them.
Overall, it was a great day! I’m so encouraged by all the JDRF is doing to turn “Type 1 into Type None”! It was great to meet Stephen and I enjoyed talking to other diabetics (I don’t interact with Type 1s very often). I look forward to the new technologies coming out in the near future and for the first time in years, I’m optimistic that a cure might be in my lifetime. Also, I believe slides are going to be made available in the next week or so, so check out the conference’s website for more info.