We R the Cure

Seeking Cures and Cheating Destiny


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Ending the A1C Blame Game: Reposting a “Must Read” From MD on Insulin Nation

Research Corner: Ending the A1C Blame Game (via http://www.insulinnation.com)

When glucose sensors first became available in clinical trials some 2 decades ago, I decided to wear a sensor to compare my glucose levels as a non-diabetic individual with glucose levels of my patients. I was excited to have this new tool, which measured…


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Clinical Studies Are Recruiting for Participants; We R the Cure — Is It Your Time?

A clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) that is intended to add to medical knowledge.

Before leaving UVa and giving back the AP, I pose with a few of the team members who watched over me and conducted the outpatient trial. L to R: my nurse, Crystal Leathers, computer engineer Benton MIze, and Stacey Anderson, MD.

Before leaving UVa and giving back the AP, I pose with a few of the team members who watched over me and conducted the outpatient trial. L to R: my nurse, Crystal Leathers, computer engineer Benton Mize, and Stacey Anderson, MD.

There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials and observational studies. ClinicalTrials.gov includes both interventional and observational studies.

Searching for a Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trial? Check out the current list of trials in the United States.  Searching for a Type 2 diabetes clinical trial?  Click this link.


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UVA Artificial Pancreas Team Receives $3.4 Million Grant; Technology Aims To Transform The Lives Of Type 1 Diabetics

A high-tech project at the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVa to turn an ordinary smart phone into an artificial pancreas that could transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes has received a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The Center For Diabetes Technology Team at UVA

The Center for Diabetes Technology Team at UVA is part of a worldwide Artificial Pancreas Consortium working to bring a safe and high-tech Closed Loop System to Americans with Type 1 diabetes in the next few years!

The money will fund a new network approach to artificial pancreas design using distributed computing between local and Cloud systems that will allow real-time adjustment of insulin delivery based on the individual’s needs. The grant will also fund three clinical trials at the University of Virginia and at Stanford University that will advance the project toward its final goal of offering people with type 1 diabetes – in which the body does not produce enough insulin – an automated way to monitor and regulate their blood sugar.

“This project approaches the artificial pancreas not as a single device but as a network of local and global services working seamlessly together towards the optimal control of diabetes,” said Boris Kovatchev, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the Center for Diabetes Technology.

The artificial pancreas was developed at the School of Medicine by a team of researchers led by Kovatchev, the director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology, and Patrick Keith-Hynes, PhD. The device consists of a reconfigured smart phone running advanced algorithms, linked wirelessly with a blood glucose monitor and an insulin pump, and communicating with Internet services in real time.

The system’s developers intend for it to monitor and regulate blood-sugar levels automatically, report to a remote-monitoring site and link the user with assistance via telemedicine as needed. This would save users from having to stick their fingers to check their glucose levels multiple times a day and eliminate the need for countless syringes to inject insulin manually. The physicians on the team – Bruce Buckingham, MD, of Stanford, and UVA’s Stacey Anderson, MD, and Sue Brown, MD – have tested the artificial pancreas system in successful outpatient trials in Virginia, California and in Europe.

University of Virginia Press Release


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The “Highs and Lows” Of Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trials: Some Days You’re the Windshield; Some Days You’re The Bug

LauraRNMike2

Laura Kollar, right, Clinical Research Coordinator and Nurse Manager at UVA, spent her Saturday morning guiding the health screening for trial participants at Barringer Wing. Thanks Laura!

As I ponder the current ” Ups and Downs” of my participation in a new Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Trial at UVA, two quotes come to mind. One comes from a famous figure in American history; The other comes from my father, a UVA alum known for his wit and wisdom throughout the Anderson clan in Virginia.

“Do not put off till tomorrow what can be put off till day-after-tomorrow just as well.” — Mark Twain

“Growing old ain’t for Sissies.” — Howard Anderson

I think both are fitting words for the inconvenience, effort and the amazing satisfaction that comes from giving your own blood, sweat, and sometimes a few tears to help researchers move us all one step closer to finding a ” Cure ” or high tech solutions that will improve the quality of life for persons living with T1D.  Last month I joined a new clinical trial at UVA’s Center for Diabetes Technology — my sixth trial since August 2010 — titled “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Glucose Variability.”

Trial participants will track their insulin sensitivity results over about one month and travel to Charlottesville for an in-patient stay at UVA Hospital to measure,  through continuous blood analysis, how a person responds or counters a high and a low blood sugar. A greater understanding of these issues will help researchers, doctors and digital technology leaders finish key parts of the Artificial Pancreas project — a closed-loop insulin pump technology designed to better control glucose levels in T1 diabetics and reduce the serious medical complications of diabetes.

BarringerWingUVA

On a Saturday morning in October, I waited outside Barringer Wing at the old UVA Hospital complex for my health screening to start. It is always a very emotional and cool feeling for me to be back at Barringer — I’m walking the halls where my mother and father were on the day of my birth back in 1961.

Participating in a clinical trial is a volunteer labor of love. No one forces you to sign up. ( Attention: We need more people to sign up for clinical trials all over the world!! ). You are able to step out of a trial at any point. The truth is: it’s amazing to participate in cutting-edge medical technology like the AP and I’m hoping to benefit from the results of the research — automated glucose management that leads to better long-term health and less complications.

In a snapshot, here are the highlights of the first 3 weeks of my study. The BIG EVENT happens this week — when I complete my 12-hour in-patient stay at UVA hospital with the CDT medical team.

  • Week 1: Go to Lab Corp and get pre-trial blood work done and results shipped to UVA; Travel to Cville for health screen with medical team; Attach trial DexCom 4 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM); Go shopping at grocery store for pre-planned meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack with exact carb, protein and fat grams — to be used for my 4 Insulin Sensitivity days; Do  “Twice” the number of normal finger sticks in order to record BG data in my trial meter and my own insulin pump meter — Ouch!
  • Week 2: Eat 2 tasty pre-packaged meals and record the exact food nutrition information on the spreadsheet provided by Stacey Anderson, MD — who is no relation to the Anderson clan but a cool coincidence that we share the same last name; Discover that the DexCom CGM sensor applicator — does not always work and actually draws blood from my abdomen site; Keep doing the finger sticks — 9 to 10 times a day for two meters and for calibration of the CGM — Ouch!
  • Week 3:  Get day off from work approved; Discover that the ” hidden gem ” of the trial study is NOT going to happen yet — wearing the DexCom5 CGM prototype in addition to the DexCom 4 CGM; The DexCom 5 is being manufactured specifically to work directly with the Artificial Pancreas SmartPhone — delivering blood glucose results to the SmartPhone and not to the normal CGM receiver. This is one of the remaining “closed-loop” research items to be completed before the AP can become commercially available.

For now, that’s my story. Stay tuned for my next blog post and photos — from the in-patient glucose variability trial at UVA this coming week. Remember — We R the Cure. We R the ones who will make a brighter day for Type 1 diabetics.


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What Does It Feel Like To Test Your Blood Sugar 8 Times Every Day: My Day of Finger Pricks

A few years ago, a child under the age of 9 years presented this to a room full of adults at a JDRF fundraiser in Richmond, VA. Her concise and beautiful talk captivated the room. It says a lot about the daily grind of a child, a parent caring for a child, or an adult living with Type 1 diabetes. More than 3 million Americans face this daily Type 1 D drama in order to stay alive.

Finger Pricks

Try this. What does it feel like to test your blood sugar or take an insulin shot — 8 times a day.

As 2012 ends and 2013 begins, it’s time to energize We R the Cure. Here’s my starting point.

I encourage you to try this simple yet realistic “day in the life” of a person living with diabetes. To feel what it’s like to test your blood sugar like me, put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it each time you see my handprint or needle. Eight times or more a day.

  1. I woke up low at 2 AM. Mom had to check me. Finger Stick.
  2. Check before breakfast and my first shot.
  3. Gym today. The nurse checks me before I can participate.
  4. Mom or I check before lunchtime. Finger Stick. Shot.
  5. Soccer practice after school. Finger Stick.
  6. Suppertime. Finger Stick. Shot.
  7. Before Bedtime. Finger Stick. Snack or Shot.
  8. Bedtime. Finger Stick. Snack or Shot. I am OK.


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The Frederick Banting Foundation: Raising New Capital To Support Unrecognized Technologies

The Frederick Banting Foundation welcomes support from other like minded donors.  We operate in the spirit of Dr. Frederick Banting who discovered insulin in four years with little funding.

Dr. Frederick Banting, Right, and his team of scientists discovered insulin 90 years ago.

Dr. Frederick Banting and his team discovered insulin 90 years ago.

The Frederick Banting Foundation seeks to make transformative investments where our capital can generate significant scientific project towards improving the lives of those suffering with Type 1 Diabetes and eventually towards a cure.  All research projects are personally selected by those suffering with or caring for those with Type 1 Diabetes.  The Foundation frequently partners with leading sponsors of research such as the National Institute of Health, JDRF and the University of Virginia.

We seek to be good stewards of our causes.  The Board contributes generously to the Frederick Banting Foundation.  We also keep Foundation operating costs to an absolute minimum and as a result there is virtually no overhead. This group was established in 2011 by Richmonders Fred and Susan Russell, whose son, William, is living with Type 1 Diabetes.

To discuss a donation call Fred Russell at 804-648-4802 or email him at Fred@BantingFoundation.com.

The Frederick Banting Foundation’s “investment” strategy is:

  • to provide funds over several years as a source of more permanent capital,
  • to support projects that might not otherwise get funded especially for projects offering  a compelling risk/reward balance,
  • to avoid supporting institutional overhead,
  • to have ongoing access to project leaders,
  • to receive reports outlining performance to expectations,
  • to involve other like-minded donors, and
  • to obtain confirmatory due diligence in advance of funding.

Utilizing our venture capital experience, the Foundation hopes to select promising research projects where the Frederick Banting Foundation’s funds can accelerate unrecognized or under-appreciated technologies where we believe our funding can be a catalyst to stimulate rapid development or adoption.

Article Reprint Courtesy of The Frederick Banting Foundation


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A Parent’s View: The Sugar Highs And Lows During A 20-year Diabetes Journey

Lauri and her son, Drew, at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA

Lauri, right, and her son, Drew, celebrate his sophomore year at James Madison University.

By Lauri Savage

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 15 months.  His onset was sudden, severe and life-threatening.  Although living with diabetes is challenging, nothing compares to the fear of almost losing a loved one.  Our 20-year family journey with diabetes provides me, a parent, with a unique perspective and I hope to share this with you.

When my son was a baby, I vividly recall people saying, “How can you give a baby shots?” 

I guarantee any parent could give their child a shot if it was a means of keeping them alive.  With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not producing insulin, so injections through syringes or an insulin pump are needed to live.

As my son went through his childhood, we found the right balance of vigilance and living life.  Here is what I mean by this:  it is critical for people with diabetes to keep their blood glucose levels in the right range.  Either a very low blood glucose level or a very high blood glucose levels can result in a medical emergency.   With a low blood sugar, giving the person sugar through glucose tables or another quick acting source restores the person to normalcy over time.  With a high blood sugar, additional insulin is needed.  In the extreme case, without proper medical management, either a very low or high blood sugar could have a serious outcome.

As the parent of a child with diabetes, you must strike a balance between monitoring every morsel your child consumes and allowing high sugar or high carbohydrate foods to be consumed.  No longer is it true that sweets and treats can’t be enjoyed, but moderation is key.  Physical activity is beneficial for all of us, and is good for a child with diabetes too.  But this also involves testing blood glucose before, during and after sports and keeping levels in the right range.

Before you know it, the teen-age years have arrived.  By this point, my son had gained great independence in managing his diabetes, testing his own blood glucose level and administering insulin with supervision.  Along the way, he was spending nights away from home with friends.  This required making sure that the parents had a general understanding of diabetes and how to respond if an emergency arose.  Often my husband or I would have to drop by during a sleep over just to monitor our son’s diabetes.

Fast forward to my son getting his driver’s license and the prospect of teen parties and imagine more potential worries.  Luckily, my son has always been responsible and takes good care of his diabetes.  That doesn’t mean that we did not have a few medical emergencies over the 20 years of his living with this disease.  It is just impossible to be always be prepared, but fortunately things always worked out

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the day when you bring your almost 18 year-old to college. I’ll cover this in my next post on We R the Cure.


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Discovery of Insulin: It’s not a cure, but it sure beats death

This blog is dedicated to a future of high tech products, better treatment solutions and, one day, real cures for persons living with autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes. Before we can look forward, we need to stop and pay our respect to two Canadians and their laboratory dogs!

This month marks the 90th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Canadian scientists Fred Banting and Charles Best.

As a person with Type 1 diabetes, I owe these men and many other scientists my life. Actually, about 4 million people living today are in debt to these trailblazers.

Fred Banting and Charles Best Discover Insulin

Canadian Scientists Fred Banting and Charles Best Discovered Insulin in 1922. Photo courtesy University of Toronto.

Although it is true — Insulin is not a cure for Type 1 diabetes — imagine the starvation deaths  suffered before the discovery of insulin in 1922. In fact, my favorite diabetes book, “Cheating Destiny,” writer James S. Hirsch tells the horror stories of children and adults living a “disgusting and painful” death from diabetes. In the early 1900s, doctors knew that sugar worsened the condition of diabetic patients and that the most effective treatment was to put the patients on very strict diets where sugar intake was limited.  At best, this treatment would buy patients a few extra years, but it never saved them. In some cases, the diets even caused patients to die of starvation.

“The Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia offered the first accurate account of diabetes in the first century A.D., noting the distinctively gruesome fashion in which some patients withered away. He called their demise, the ‘melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine. Life is disgusting and painful.’ Diabetes’ signature symptom was polyuria or excessive urine. When blood sugar levels rise, the body draws water from its tissues to purge the sugar through its urine.”

This is why children and adults may lose 50% or more of their body weight in the initial weeks of the autoimmune disorder hitting. Your body is, basically, releasing excess sugar AND the food you need to stay alive. In my case, I lost 16-17 pounds in about 4 to 6 weeks before I finally dragged myself to Dr. G. V. Puster for my diagnosis! I made many rushed trips — running at full speed — to get to a bath room. And hoping that I would not wet my pants. It was a hit-or-miss race. Ugh. Fun times.

So, let’s celebrate the discovery of insulin. One of the most revolutionary moments in medicine. Though it took some time to work out proper dosages and to develop manufacturing processes to make enough insulin of consistent strength and purity, the introduction of insulin seemed literally like a miracle. One year the disease was an automatic death sentence; the next, people — even children — had hopes of living full and productive lives even with the disease. Wellcome's insulin Ad in 1923

Now, we stand on the water’s edge. Waiting for the next miracle. If you want to participate in miracles, then you need to get involved in a human clinical trial. Miracles like the artificial pancreas, beta cell regeneration and smart insulin are sitting on the horizon. So don’t wait on the shoreline. Jump in. Become a “research dog.”

Coming up next week, I’ll post details on how to find and enroll in a clinical trial.

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