In 1979, Dr. Robert Sherwin and Dr. William Tamborlane developed the insulin pump to treat Type 1 diabetes. Today, it’s used by more than 350,000 patients. Without volunteers like the children and their families who were willing to participate in clinical research, this groundbreaking discovery would not have been possible.
The Fergusson family is well aware of the benefits of clinical research. Their older daughter Kate, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was five, wears an insulin pump, a device that was originally developed and tested at Yale. She is also participating in a clinical trial to test a continuous glucose monitoring system. Kate’s two siblings participate in studies for relatives of those with Type 1 diabetes aimed at preventing and treating the disease in its early stages. Tests showed that Anna, Kate’s younger sister, had rising levels of antibodies that indicated she was at high risk of developing diabetes. She and her parents decided to enroll her in a study to test a new drug that has the potential to prevent the onset of the disease.
Therapy for Type 2 diabetes has been around for almost 60 years, yet doctors still can’t agree on the best treatment strategy after metformin, widely viewed as the best pill to use in newly diagnosed patients. Unfortunately, many patients will need another medication in addition to metformin to get their blood sugar levels down to their goal. There are plenty of options — traditional pills that stimulate the body to make more insulin, or insulin injections themselves. Newer options include insulin-sensitizing drugs and medicines that help gastrointestinal hormones increase the insulin released from the pancreas.
When you take care of your diabetes, you’ll feel better. You’ll reduce your risk for problems with your kidneys, eyes, nerves, feet and legs, and teeth. You’ll also lower your risk for a heart attack or a stroke. Your doctor may prescribe medication, but you can also take care of your diabetes by being physically active and following a healthy meal plan.