Pancreas on a chip was published by Mary Bergman for the Harvard Gazette, 29 August 2019. Harvard scientists have combined organ-on-a-chip and stem-cell technologies to make a powerful tool for diabetes research and beta-cell transplantation.

By combining two powerful technologies, scientists are taking diabetes research to a whole new level. In a study led by Harvard University’s Kevin Kit Parker and published in the journal Lab on a Chip on Aug. 29, microfluidics and human, insulin-producing beta cells have been integrated in an islet-on-a-chip. The new device makes it easier for scientists to screen insulin-producing cells before transplanting them into a patient, test insulin-stimulating compounds, and study the fundamental biology of diabetes.

The design of the islet-on-a-chip was inspired by the human pancreas, in which islands of cells (“islets”) receive a continuous stream of information about glucose levels from the bloodstream and adjust their insulin production as needed.

“If we want to cure diabetes, we have to restore a person’s own ability to make and deliver insulin,” explained Douglas Melton, the Xander University Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI). “Beta cells, which are made in the pancreas, have the job of measuring sugar and secreting insulin, and normally they do this very well. But in diabetes patients these cells can’t function properly. Now, we can use stem cells to make healthy beta cells for them. But like all transplants, there is a lot involved in making sure that can work safely.”

Read more: Pancreas on a chip


Fibrotic Encapsulation Is the Dominant Source of Continuous Glucose Monitor Delays was published on diabetesjournals.org, October 2019.  Researchers from Vanderbilt University conducted a study that sought to determine the loci of CGM delays. In plain English, why are they lags and delays in your CGM data. It’s a technical article … but here’s the bottom line.

The key practical implication of these data is that >80% of the latency with respect to blood glucose detection by CGMs is due to fibrous encapsulation of the sensor. Modifications to the CGM membrane that limit foreign body or inflammatory responses, such as a dexamethasone-eluting silicone collar or coating the sensor with a zwitterionic polymer, hold promise not only for their intended purpose of improving signal quality and sensor longevity but also for improving the timeliness of glucose readings. Beyond the CGM field, fibrosis-related impediments to glucose diffusion may also apply to other areas relevant to diabetes and metabolism, including extracellular matrix remodeling in insulin resistance.

Read the study abstract:  Fibrotic Encapsulation Is the Dominant Source of Continuous Glucose Monitor Delays


Both Blood Pressure Numbers Matter, New Study Finds was reported by Robert Roy Britt for Medium/Luminate, 18 July 2019. Decades of advice are overturned, doubling the number of numbers to worry about.

As if understanding blood pressure wasn’t confusing enough, a new study suggests doctors and patients need to relearn half of what had been the common wisdom. For decades, health professionals have instructed people to worry about the upper number, called the systolic reading, and not to worry too much about the lower number, called the diastolic reading.

Worry about both, researchers now say. The results affect nearly half of U.s. adults who, by current definitions, have high blood pressure.

“This research brings a large amount of data to bear on a basic question, and it gives such a clear answer,” said the study’s lead author Alexander Flint, a stroke specialist at Kaiser Permanente, a conglomerate that runs hospitals and offers health plans. “Every way you slice the data, the systolic and diastolic pressures are both important.”

Systolic pressure, the upper number, measures how hard the heart works.

Diastolic pressure measures the pressure on the arteries as the heart rests between beats.

The findings, detailed in the July 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are seen as confirming the recently revised minimum threshold for high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Read more:  Both Blood Pressure Numbers Matter


JDRF announced an exciting new alliance with Beyond Type 1, aimed at getting more information, more resources and more support to our type 1 diabetes (T1D) community.  This is an innovative partnership, based on a shared objective of supporting the people and families impacted by T1D with accelerated Research, Advocacy and Community Engagement.

JDRF brings to the Alliance Research expertise, as well as a respected and trusted Advocacy voice, and a solid, supportive network of Community Engagement resources and programs. 

Beyond Type 1 is connecting the global Type 1 diabetes community through social media, digital resources, powerful personal stories, and community programs.

    • Engage more T1D community members by leveraging and developing mutual materials and programs with increased efficiency and impact
    • Accelerate research support and advocacy efforts by better engaging and educating the T1D community
    • Increase the diversity of the T1D Community we are reaching through new, joint outreach efforts

Read more:  JDRF and Beyond Type 1 Launch Alliance


Private insurers are improperly rejecting Medicare drug claims, watchdog finds, as reported by Philip Moeller for PBS.org, 25 September 2019. 

The private insurers operating Medicare Part D drug plans may be putting profits ahead of patient interests, according to a report from the program’s watchdog.  The report, issued by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, analyzed rejections of millions of prescription requests during 2017, the most recent year for which comprehensive information is available.

Insurers initially rejected as many as 3.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries’ attempts to fill prescriptions, the analysis found. While this may appear to be a small rate, it amounted to a very large number — about 84 million rejections out of 2.4 billion Part D pharmacy transactions.

“Because Part D covers more than 45 million beneficiaries, even low rates of denied or delayed medically necessary drugs or reimbursement could contribute to physical or financial harm for many Medicare beneficiaries,” the report said.

The clear message to people with Part D plans is that they should do more homework before trying to fill a prescription.

Read more: Private insurers are improperly rejecting Medicare drug claims


Type 1 Diabetes & Evidence-Based Hope … a Diabetes Connection with Stacey Simms podcast that takes a deeper look into some important studies with two leaders in the diabetes community. 

Image result for Bill polonsky steve edelmanDr. Bill Polonski of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute and Dr. Steve Edelman, founder of TCOYD and an endocrinologist who lives with type 1. 

Listen to the podcast:  Type 1 Diabetes & Evidence-Based Hope


Let’s talk about hypos and our families …

Facilitated conversations can reduce family hypoglycemia burden in diabetes was published by A. Ratzki-Leewing et all on Diabetes Therapy, 14 September 2019.  Basically, share what it is like to experience hypoglycemia events and help them understand what you need!

An international survey of more than 4,300 family members of people with diabetes suggests that most feel worried or anxious about their loved one experiencing a hypoglycemic episode, with three-quarters of respondents reporting they spent time helping family members manage low blood glucose events, according to findings published in Diabetes Therapy.

“There has been little research undertaken on the wider significance of low blood sugar to the family members of people living with diabetes,” Stewart B. Harris MD, MPH, FCFP, FACPM, professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and a research scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute, said in a press release. “Something as simple as having an open and honest conversation may be incredibly beneficial. This survey suggests that family members may help inspire more conversations about low blood sugar within the family, as well as with health care providers.”

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All in the diabetes family: Novo Nordisk addresses loved ones’ hypoglycemia worries in new effort, as reported by Beth Snyder Bulik for FiercePharma.com, 26 September 2019. 

Hypoglycemia is a consistent concern for people with diabetes. But the families of Type 1 and Type 2 patients also worry. In fact, a new survey from Novo Nordisk found that 64% of family members feel “worried or anxious” about their loved ones experiencing low blood sugar issues.

To address that and other survey insights, Novo launched www.talkhypos.com with information and resources about hypoglycemia. It includes videos featuring patients and their loved ones who talk individually about how they feel about hypoglycemia. The two perspectives are then revealed to each with Novo’s intention to help “get a real conversation started,” the narrator says. The drugmaker plans to use social media to help drive consumers to the website and videos.

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