Over the past several decades, there have been four major foundations concerned with type 1 diabetes issues – the JDRF, the ADA, DRIF and the Joslin [Center]. There has been a combined total of 250+ years of experiments between these organizations put together and there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, nor is there one on the horizon.
One of the main [reasons] is that although the vast majority of money donated towards these organizations is for cure research, only 35 out of 330 clinical trials currently taking place are targeting a cure.
There are over 300 type 1 [diabetes] research projects in the clinical stage. Most do not even attempt to target a cure and instead target treatments, prevention and management techniques. Just 35 clinical trials that are identified in Exhibit A (on page 5) target a cure for type 1 [diabetes]. The 35 trials were identified by Mr. Joshua Levy, who independently monitors the type 1 research landscape. The trial list was compiled with the intent of capturing cure-targeted treatments.
Mr. Levy’s definition of a cure, which is more general than the JDCA’s definition of a Practical Cure, includes the following criteria for inclusion:
- Blood sugar control without testing and with doctor’s visits of four times a year or less
- Must result in an average lifespan close to normal
- Does not require a lifetime of harsh immunosuppressive drugs
- A couple of operations, or a short course of drugs is acceptable
The table in Exhibit A lists treatments, rather than individual trials, as there may be more than one trial underway for a particular treatment.
The majority of trials listed in Exhibit A investigate treatments designed to prevent or slow the progression of type 1 [diabetes] in newly diagnosed individuals. This suggests that funding for prevention research is abundant. Approximately two-thirds of treatments on the clinical trial list are prevention oriented, designed to delay disease onset or prolong the honeymoon period. Treatments designed to prevent type 1 [diabetes] will [likely] not cure individuals living with established type 1 [diabetes].
The small number of clinical trials targeting a cure for individuals living with established type 1 [diabetes] suggests to us that cure research funds have not been prioritized by the major type 1 [diabetes] foundations/research organizations. The DRIF is an exception as it states that all of its research is cure oriented. The JDCA believes that there could be a better alignment of the wishes of donors who contribute for a cure with the funding of activities that will result in cure-focused clinical trials. In order to drive more Practical Cure research into clinical trials, this type of research needs to be prioritized when funding decisions are made.
Health-e-Solutions comment: We agree with the JDCA that there should be more cure-focused research than there is currently. Frankly, the paltry number of clinical trials focused on a cure is woefully deficient relative to the funds being raised under the guise of finding a cure. We applaud their efforts to bring to light the disparity between perception and reality with the major type 1 diabetes charitable and research foundations.