Resources for Professionals

The majority of diabetes resources on the internet are aimed at laypeople, but scientists also share information online. Here are a few recommendations centering on encapsulation of cells and research groups studying type 1.

Type 1 Research Consortia

This list is taken from an article by two leading diabetes researchers published in Diabetes, the lead journal of the ADA (January 2011) under the heading “Perspectives in Diabetes.” It purports to be a comprehensive list of consortia studying type I diabetes. The weblink for each is accompanied by a quoted description from the site, and by a comment from Scott King, founder of Islet Sheet Medical.

Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium
“The T1DGC originally focused on recruiting families with at least two siblings (brothers and/or sisters) who have type 1 diabetes (affected sibling pair or ASP families). The T1DGC completed enrollment for these families in August 2009.”

I was curious about this one, because we already know a lot about the gene alleles’ contribution to autoimmune diabetes. The site is for investigators, not the public. An expensive study that is unlikely to be useful in finding a cure.

The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young
“The TEDDY study—The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young—is looking for the causes of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).”

A long-term study of the vexing problem of identifying the environmental causes of autoimmune diabetes (which is only roughly 50% genetic). I hope it is well designed because environmental interventions would be cheap and could work.

Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes
“nPOD is a collaborative type 1 diabetes research project funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). We support scientific investigators by providing, without cost, rare and difficult to obtain tissues beneficial to their research.”

I went to the trouble of getting accredited access to this one: an excellent atlas of tissues from the pancreases of autoimmune diabetics. The quality of the data is impressive. This consortium has made possible the discovery that some diabetics die with a small residual islet function, and these tend to have fewer complications.

Search for Diabetes in Youth
“SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth is a multi-center study funded by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). The study focuses on children and youth in the U.S. who have diabetes.”

This appears to be a useful study to get a handle on what forms of diabetes children actually get, including “hybrid” diabetes with features of both type 1 and type 2, and cofactors. Model of an organized and easy-to use site. The data are all reported by ethnicity, which I find annoying. Races are just suites of gene alleles; couldn’t we skip the race reporting and go directly to the genetics?

Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet
“TrialNet is a network of 18 Clinical Centers working in cooperation with screening sites throughout the United States, Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. … dedicated to the study, prevention, and early treatment of type 1 diabetes.”

A poorly organized but information-rich site on interventions to slow down early stages of autoimmune diabetes. Highlight: “News…,” where you can hear the Jonas Brothers PSA. So far the interventions reported extend the length of the “honeymoon” but with unacceptable side effects.

Immune Tolerance Network
“A clinical research consortium sponsored by NIAID and JDRF … The Immune Tolerance Network (or ITN) is a non-profit, government-funded consortium of researchers working together to establish new treatments for diseases of the immune system.”

This organization is responsible for the huge, badly designed, badly executed multi-center trial of the Edmonton Protocol. The website is slick and puzzling. I searched for “diabetes” and got one good hit, announcing a 5-year, $15 million initiative between ITN and JDRF five years ago. I wonder what came of that? Nothing on the ITN site.

Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk
“TRIGR is an international, randomized, double-blinded trial. The hypothesis to be tested is whether hydrolyzed infant formula compared to cow's milk-based formula decreases risk of developing type 1 diabetes in children with increased genetic susceptibility.”

This trial is follow-up on the reports that early formula milk increases risk of T1D compared with breast milk in early life. It includes upbeat newsletters for the families participating, but no data I could find.

Islet Cell Resource Centers
“The Islet Cell Resource Centers (ICRs) were funded by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, components of the National Institutes of Health … and comprised an interactive group of 10 academic laboratories charged with three major goals: 1) to provide pancreatic islets of cGMP-quality to eligible investigators for use in FDA-approved, IRB-approved transplantation protocols; 2) to optimize the harvest, purification, function, storage, and shipment of islets while developing tests that characterized the quality and predicted the effectiveness of islets transplanted into patients with diabetes mellitus; and 3) to provide pancreatic islets for basic science studies.”

This consortium shut down in July 2009, it seems.

Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry and Clinical Islet Transplant Corsortium
“The Clinical Islet Transplantation (CIT) Consortium is a network of clinical centers and a data coordinating center established in 2004 to conduct studies of islet transplantation in patients with type 1 diabetes.”

The Registry site is for researchers only. The public Corsortium site does not have anything beyond background information. See “Who…” for the people who control the funding of conventional islet transplantation. So far as I can tell, this whole field is about waiting for an immune suppression drug that will have acceptable side effects. I think it will be a very long wait.

Diabetes Research in Children Network
“The mission of DirecNet is to investigate the potential use of glucose monitoring technology and its impact on the management of type 1 diabetes (T1DM) in children. … DirecNet is a network consisting of 5 clinical centers and a coordinating center.”

It seems a very good idea to study use of CGM in children. Data availability through the site is impressive. But the most recent entries are dated 2008, and the studies are “recruiting” status, so it is clearly not up to date.

Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications
“Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) is a multi-center, longitudinal, observational study designed to utilize the well- characterized Diabetes Control and Complications Trial DCCT cohort of 1297 patients (EDIC, 2009).”

A project of the George Washington University Biostatistics Center, EDIC is squeezing information from the DCCT Study cohort. Good use of an established and historic cohort. I am a big fan of epidemiology.

Encapsulation Technologies

Diabetes management, encapsulation approach
The Wikipedia entry on diabetes therapy has a good lay summary of the encapsulation approach.

Current Research into a Cure for Type-1 Diabetes
“News and updates on potential cures for type-1 diabetes, that are in human (or clinical) trials now, or are expected to be soon.”

If you are following research, the most impressive combination of breadth and good judgment is Joshua Levy's blog.

Islet Sheet Medical
The researchers at Islet Sheet Medical have an excellent record in developing and proving microencapsulation and thin sheet macroencapsulation technologies. They are available for consultation and/or collaboration of projects in encapsulation with any living cell as well as islet of Langerhans. Services can include technology improvement, experiment design, and even sales of proprietary reagents. Contact Scott King.

Funding Organizations

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
If you do diabetes research, you already know the funding sources. The starting point is, of course, JDRF.

Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance
For a metaview of diabetes research funding check out JDCA. They have positioned themselves as “the voice of the donor” and focus on directing funding on a defined cure. Lots of unusual perspectives.

General—Living with Diabetes
The granddaddy and still best and most complete metasite. Vast.

Close Concerns
“A consultancy devoted to the business of diabetes … includes Diabetes Roundup III, a unique 200-page compilation of cogent observations on the diabetes and obesity industries facing the industry today.”

The most impressive business site.

City of Hope, Levine Symposium
“Each year the City of Hope Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism holds an annual diabetes and obesity symposium in memory of the late Dr. Rachmiel Levine, the scientist responsible for clarifying the nature of insulin action.”