Newly discovered hybrid immune cell linked to Type 1 diabetes was reported by Angus Liu for FierceBiotech.com, 30 May 2019.
B and T cells are the two known lymphocytes of the immune system. But a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers has identified a new cell type that looks like a hybrid of the two main immune cells. And the rare immune “X cell” may play a key role in the development of Type 1 diabetes, they found.
Scientists have long known that Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. However, the underlying mechanism at the cellular level was not clear.
The team believes the findings of what they call a dual expresser (DE) cell—and a protein that it produces—shed some light on the mechanism and lay the groundwork for developing immunotherapies against Type 1 diabetes. They published the findings in the journal Cell.
“What is unique about the entity we found is that it can act as both a B cell and a T cell,” the study’s senior author and Johns Hopkins pathologist Abdel-Rahim Hamad said in a statement. “This probably accentuates the autoimmune response because one lymphocyte is simultaneously performing the functions that normally require the concerted actions of two.”
The agency has posted a Priority List of areas that particularly need patient input, which includes:
- Understanding how people with diabetes value certain attributes of diabetes devices like interoperability
- Benefit-risk tradeoffs related to treatments for diabetes
- Understanding patient views on apps
- Personal experiences with devices
- User desires to have a product available as soon as possible (vs. doing more clinical trials and having more confirmation of less risk).
The FDA wants feedback on whether the list needs to be changed and any information about existing studies that can address the listed areas. A public docket is now open, with comments due by July 2.
Read more and link to the public docket:
Boosting the Effects of Vitamin D to Tackle Diabetes was reported by the Salk Institute, 10 May 2019. While this report refers mostly to Type 2 diabetes, there is some suggestion that is also applies to those with Type 1 diabetes.
In a paper published May 10, 2018, in Cell, researchers from the Salk Institute report a potential new approach for treating diabetes by protecting beta cells–the cells in the pancreas that produce, store and release the hormone insulin. When beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can’t make insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) and levels of glucose can rise to dangerous–even fatal–levels.
The investigators accomplished their goal by using an unexpected source: vitamin D. Vitamin D in cells and mouse models proved beneficial in treating damaged beta cells. It also provided new insights about gene regulation that could be applied to developing treatments for other diseases, including cancer.
“We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation,” explains senior author Ronald Evans, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and holder of Salk’s March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology. “In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.”
FDA Gives Orphan Status for Potential Type 1 ‘Brittle’ Diabetes Therapy was reported by the University of Miami Health Institute, 28 May 2019 … a designation that could streamline the approval process and bring this advanced treatment to patients faster.
“It’s quite important because it allows us to proceed towards a biological license application in a more rapid way,” said Camillo Ricordi, M.D., who directs the Diabetes Research Institute and the Cell Transplant Program. “This may allow the FDA to consider some kind of accelerated path for approval.”
Dr. Ricordi, who is Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and professor of biomedical engineering, microbiology and immunology, and team are testing better ways to control the immune response without fully suppressing it. This advance could eventually open up islet cell transplantation for more people with type 1 diabetes and other conditions.
And finally, two more pieces of news about those in the biohacking community.
Biohackers With Diabetes Are Making Their Own Insulin was published by Dana G. Smith for Elemental/Medium, 30 May 2019.
Open Insulin was founded in 2015 by Anthony Di Franco, a computer scientist with Type 1 diabetes, and a longtime member of the California hacker scene. At the time, Di Franco had good health insurance through an employer, so the cost of insulin wasn’t prohibitive. But the issue became personal two years later when he enrolled in graduate school and there was a temporary gap in his coverage. He ended up paying $2,400 out of pocket for a month of supplies, significantly more than his $1,600 monthly stipend as a graduate student.
He and his collaborators think one solution to the pricing crisis lies in enabling patients and hospitals to create insulin themselves. The group works out of Counter Culture Labs in the trendy Temescal neighborhood of Oakland. The space feels like the kind of place an anarchic chemist would have set up. There are giant gourds hanging from the rafters, and jokes scrawled on the unisex bathroom door combine anti-police sentiments with jokes from The Simpsons’ Sideshow Bob. At a recent meeting, one woman drank water out of a urine sample cup. (It was previously unused.) But there are also three lab benches filled with high-tech equipment, as well as beakers, pipettes, and chemicals, most of it donated or bought second-hand.
“If we can make this stuff in our janky lab on a $10,000 a year budget, there’s no way it should cost this much,” says Thornton Thompson, a molecular biologist who is part of Open Insulin. “One of the big goals of the project is just to demonstrate that.”
People Are Clamoring to Buy Old Insulin Pumps was reported by Sarah Zhang for The Atlantic, 30 April 2019. She discusses how an obsolete medical device with a security flaw became a must-have for some patients with type 1 diabetes. So true, as I’ve been using a 12 year old Medtronic 723 pump (which I bought through an ad on Craigslist) for the past two years
By 2014, the hardware components of a DIY artificial pancreas-a small insulin pump that attaches via thin disposable tubing to the body and a continuous sensor fo glucose, or sugar, that slips just under the skin-were available, but it was impossible to connect the two. That’s where the security flaw came in. The hackers realized they could use it to override old Medtronic pumps with their own algorithm that automatically calculates insulin doses based on real-time glucose data. It closed the feedback loop.
They shared this code online as OpenAPS, and “looping,” as it’s called, began to catch on. Obviously, you can’t just call up Medtronic to order a discontinued pump with a security flaw. “It’s eBay, Craigslist, Facebook. It’s like this underground market for these pumps,” says Aaron Kowalski, a DIY looper and also CEO of JDRF, a nonprofit that funds type 1 diabetes research. This is not exactly how a market for lifesaving medical devices is supposed to work. And yet, this is the only way it can work-for now.