Preventing Type 1 Diabetes

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. 

The study involves anti-CD3, an antibody Dr. Kevan Herold helped develop that quiets the T cells responsible for destroying insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Anna, age 11, sees firsthand the challenges her sister faces in controlling her diabetes. “If there was something that could help prevent it then I wanted to take that chance,” she said.

Anna and her mother Meg travelled to New Haven from their home in Maine for 14 days in order for her to participate in the study. “At 11 years old, if she doesn’t have to cope with this for the rest of her life, it’s worth juggling being away from home and work,” said Meg. “To me it was more important than not doing it.”

“I see my daughter Kate living a very good life with diabetes because of the advances, however it would be nice to throw that pump away,” said Meg. “Diabetes doesn’t stop us but we would love to stop it.”

If you have Type 1 diabetes, November is a good time to have your family members screened to see whether they might qualify for studies to try to prevent the disease.