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The Time Is Now to Move Faster Toward T1D Cures

Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D.

President and CEO, JDRF

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a challenging disease to manage, but champions of the T1D community are moving us closer to cures.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a difficult disease to manage and live with every day. More than 1.25 million Americans with T1D, including me, have a pancreas that does not produce insulin, so we must take the hormone multiple times — often injected — each day to survive. But insulin is not a cure. T1D remains a life-threatening and life-changing disease. Researchers around the world are working diligently to develop cures that build on decades of progress, and we need your help to increase research funding.

National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM) this November is a time to recognize our immense progress. Despite the continuing and very real challenges, living with T1D is fundamentally better today than it was 50, 25, or even 10 years ago. I see it in my own life, and I see it in the lives of men, women, and children in the T1D community I meet every day. The questions now facing us: What comes next? Can we make life better for people with this disease and bring about a cure?

I believe we can, and a big part of that is thanks to T1D Champions. These are not only people living with T1D and their loved ones, but also the researchers, advocates, volunteers, and people who donate to improve lives and develop cures. I meet them in towns and cities all across the United States, and am energized by their commitment to improve the lives of people with T1D.

During NDAM, we are all reminded that there is so much more work to do in our fight for cures. And what makes this work so urgent is that we are at the cusp of enormous breakthroughs in how we treat T1D and in getting cures to this disease.

Technology advances have revolutionized how people manage T1D; there is now on the market an artificial pancreas, something that was science fiction when I was a boy. What we need to do is make sure that everyone who needs these tools and the insulin that keeps all of us healthy has access to it and can afford it.

Today, beta cell therapy and immunotherapy are promising avenues toward cures. Scientists are studying treatments that might prevent the immune system from attacking and destroying insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Researchers also are making progress on ways to replace and regenerate damaged beta cells. Now is the time for more innovation and research, to move faster and smarter to get cures out of labs and to people.

To do that, we must fuel this momentum with increased funding for research and more people becoming T1D Champions. This National Diabetes Awareness Month, I invite you to join me and others across our community in this effort so we can realize the full potential of this amazing moment as soon as possible.

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