Paving the Road to Automated Insulin Delivery: The Important Role of Nonprofits

Glu T1D Exchange diabetes insulin

Over the past decade the type 1 diabetes community has been working together to develop and deliver new solutions that will improve outcomes with type 1 diabetes—while relieving the burden.

When it comes to automated insulin delivery (AID), our community has invested a lot – hundreds of millions of dollars, years of research, innovation and development and millions of hours of real-world pump and CGM wear by the community. Ultimately, we’ve invested hope – hope that AID (sometimes called artificial pancreas or closed loop) is quickly within reach and that it will improve outcomes, make daily living easier and help those wearing it avoid dangerously high or low blood glucose levels.

At T1D Exchange, we are always listening to the T1D community. We know that:

  • many people are frustrated by the pace at which these systems move through the research and development process.
  • some have developed a “do it yourself” open artificial pancreas (#wearenotwaiting).
  • others believe investing in the artificial pancreas means collectively, we’re putting off looking for a cure.

But we know that despite the range of feelings towards AID, many in our community can’t wait for the promise of AID to be a reality. In fact, in the summer of 2016, we asked our online T1D community Glu what solution they believed was most promising in T1D. The overwhelming response was for closed loop systems.

artificial pancreas closed loop automated insulin delivery

T1D Exchange Makes Significant Investments to Advance AID
In the Fall of 2016, T1D Exchange announced our AID Initiative aimed at advancing AID systems and components that support AID, such as CGM sensor technology.

I’m pleased to announce that, as part of our investment initiative, we recently made a financial investment in Bigfoot Biomedical. This first investment is intended to support a promising new system that has the potential to transform the lives of people living with T1D. This investment is only the latest example of how our work, and the work of other non-profits, can have a dramatic effect on breakthrough technologies and therapies for people with diabetes.

The Power of our Model
T1D Exchange is a unique organization that can support innovators of all sizes with a range of resources, services and financial investments – all focused to drive better and faster product development and delivery.

Over the past seven years, T1D Exchange has created a powerful set of resources to support the type 1 diabetes medical and scientific community.

  • our 20,000-person strong T1D community Glu to provide an educational forum for patients and caregivers and give them a platform to participate in the research process.
  • our clinic network includes 81 clinic sites caring for more than 100,000 T1D patients; this network has been leveraged by investigators doing T1D research and companies developing treatments and solutions to drive faster and more efficient studies and trials.
  • an army of T1D participants – more than 35,000 in total, who have helped us create a biobank with biosamples from more 2,000 individuals with type 1 (and additional patients willing to provide human biosamples on-demand for research), and a registry that holds patient-reported and medical history information from more than 32,000 patients, age 1 through 93.

We use our resources to support the acceleration of innovation in several ways, including:

  • representing the T1D population, through engagement, education and advocacy (always acting as the prudent custodian) to ensure that your voice and your experiences informs the research that ultimately affects you;
  • partnering with nonprofit organizations and industry to help support their program needs and commercialize new and innovative treatments (learn how we advanced intranasal glucagon);
  • working with patients and clinicians to understand their needs and investing in new models to improve the quality of clinical care for people with type 1 diabetes; and
  • raising funds and using our deep expertise to direct them to opportunities we believe will provide the biggest “return” to the type 1 community – better therapies and improved care. This can include funding the brightest investigators, new areas of science, translational research, or novel methods to find and advance innovative solutions (learn about our T1D Exchange Diabetes Challenge).

The Impact of T1D Exchange
In just a short time (<6 years), T1D Exchange has been instrumental in generating knowledge, improving care, accelerating technology and increasing access for the type 1 diabetes community. We are proud of the great successes we’ve had and know that it’s only the beginning. Our impact includes:

  • increasing the number of blood glucose meter strips covered by insurers in some states;
  • providing evidence to support FDA’s recent approval of an expanded label for the Dexcom G5 CGM, which allows it to be used in diabetes treatment decisions without a traditional fingerstick. This not only relieves Dexcom CGM users of the burden of regular fingersticks, it also removes a major obstacle that has prevented reimbursement of CGM by Medicare;
  • providing the Bigfoot team with data from our clinic registry database to inform how the Bigfoot data science team models insulin delivery parameters and blood glucose variation in the Bigfoot smartloop™ system and supported the build-out of a robust simulation framework that Bigfoot uses in ongoing development efforts; and
  • helping accelerate a potentially game-changing form of rescue glucagon (a simple puff it in the nose!) by providing patient experience to inform the FDA and by designing/running clinical trials and recruiting trial participants.

Our ability to support innovation and address looming healthcare challenges are only possible through your contributions – the contributions of information and data our T1D participants have shared with  us and provided across all our T1D Exchange programs, research and studies. We couldn’t invest in these important issues without your participation, and your financial support!

We’re Listening…and We’re Encouraged
For you, our community of people touched by type 1 diabetes, we not only hear your frustrations – we share them. We know progress takes too long and it’s not always transparent how the medical, scientific, and business communities collaborate to move forward.

Many of the people on our team are directly affected by type 1 diabetes, while others have dedicated much of their professional careers trying to improve T1D outcomes. We all are driven every day to bring passion, commitment and our expertise to try and represent your needs and make a positive difference for this community.

I’ve dedicated the past 15 years to improving outcomes in type 1 diabetes and if I can offer some concrete hope to you it’s this: Now is a very powerful time in T1D, because we are more organized as a community than ever before, and we have many incredible resources to move better research forward faster.

At T1D Exchange, we are proud of our role, resources and work to drive change for the T1D community. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing much more on our collaboration with Bigfoot Biomedical and the history of our relationship with CEO Jeffrey Brewer, as well as an in-depth look at some of the previously mentioned success stories (including the data that helped support the FDA decision to approve insulin dosing off CGM readings). Stay tuned!

Until then, thank you for your continued support of T1D Exchange and Glu. We couldn’t do this important work without you.



Dana A. Ball
Executive Director & Co-founder
T1D Exchange


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